Friday, December 31, 2010

Sending 2010 Off: What the heck happened last year?

Welcome to The Itinerant Librarian where we are sending away 2010. Now news summaries and highlights are mandatory this time of the year. Therefore, going with the tradition, this is my version of the end-of-year summary, or in plain English: "what the heck happened last year?"

Let's start with a little challenge. How much do you remember of 2010? Take this small quiz from Mental Floss to see what you recall.

Before we go on to the list, let me cater to those people who just need to have a news summary. Molly, of Rocketboom, gives us "The Top Ten Worst Moments of 2010."  She can be a bit of a ditz at times (I liked their previous hostess better), but this is a pretty good summary of all that happened in 2010.

 Now let's get to the links:
  • Well, for openers, people died. Now I could go out and find one of those "who the hell died last year?" compilations, but I am sure my three readers know how to find them on CNN or any other of the usual news sources. Here, we try to find things that are a bit more unique, such as a list of people who died that you may not have heard of. From Mental Floss blog, where they are "remembering 10 people we lost in 2010."  For example, did you know that the last of Ziegfeld Follies girls died in 2010?
  • Apparently, there were a bunch of movies premiering in 2010. If you did not have the time or the inclination to watch all of them, here is a 6-minute video that edits all 270 of those movies in one clip. Watch it and see how many you recognize. A hat tip to BuzzFeed
  • John Scalzi gives us a look at "The Most Notable Science-Fiction Films of 2010."  
  • Another way to summarize 2010 is by protest signs. From asshats to the bizarre, here is a collection of "The 75 Best Protest Signs of 2010." Also via BuzzFeed.
  • 2010 was a year where the recession pretty much continued (yes, I know, those economists said it ended sometime around 2009, but you just have to see the average person out there and take a look around to see things are still bad). A lot of the economic problems have to do with greedy people, pure and simple. And boy did we have some greedy asshats in 2010. Via AlterNet, here is a list of "The 10 Greediest People of 2010." 
  • AlterNet also provides a list of their 10 Most Popular Economic Stories of 2010
  • Bankers and CEOs are not the only asshats out there. Politicians certainly misbehaved in 2010. All this misbehavior added new words to our language, and you may need a little help keeping track. Here, provided by The Daily Beast, then is a 2010 Political Dictionary. No, Aqua-Buddha is not a new superhero. 
  • Want more vocabulary? Mental Floss lists "Merriam-Webster's Top Ten Words of 2010." 
  • Sometimes the most entertaining stuff comes from advertisements. AdFreak has put together its list of "30 Freakiest Ads of 2010." Links and clips are included. There may be some risque content (as in say, lingerie or humor that may be a bit dark.. This is my way of telling the squeamish, repressed, easily offended, or just more conservative to use their discretion). 
  • News also happened in terms of sex and love. Via SUNfiltered, here we have "The Best Sex and Love News of 2010" and "The Worst Sex and Love News of 2010."  A hat tip to Em & Lo.(If you visit Em & Lo, do keep in mind some content may be risque. It is a sex advice site after all, along with other interesting things). 
  • Overall, 2010 may have been a pretty bad and hard year, but I do not want to leave it all in the negative. So, from Common Dreams, here are the "10 Most Hopeful Stories of 2010." Put together, there may be a kernel of hope in here. 
  • I have to include at least something about librarians. It seems some librarians apparently found some news that interested them as well. As a librarian myself, I see some of these as things of interest and importance, and I see some as things I could not care less about. I will let my three readers guess which stories are which. Anyhow, from LISNews, here are "Ten Stories That Shaped 2010.
  • Via, we get the Top 20 Internet Lists.  From lesbians who look like Justin Bieber to cats in sweaters, you will find something amusing here.
  • 2010 was full of asshats who said stupid things. Bigots and religious hypocrites had a field day saying stupid stuff as well as politicians. The folks at the Texas Freedom Network have compiled lists of quotes for 2010 from the Texas SBOE (who are pretty much an embarrassment to the state), science, religious freedom (no, not defending religious freedom, but conveniently forgetting there is such a thing as religious freedom, or thinking it only applies to their Christian deity. For instance, did you know there is a danger that there will not be any Protestants in government? The horror. Find out which dumbass politico said just that), Muslim bashing (again, religion is OK as long as it is not Islam or anything other than Protestatism),  and some miscellaneous stupidity (for example, did you know yoga is demonic? Find out which asshat said just that).
  • Have a look at some neat, freaky, or just weird ads when AdFreak puts together their "25 Most Popular AdFreak Posts of 2010." My personal favorite is the exploding crocodile.  They also have a list of "10 Uncool Ads and Products featuring Jesus." This last one is not for the faint of heart or the uptight religious people with no sense of humor. You have been warned.
This will likely be my last post for 2010. I would like to take this moment to thank my three readers, and to wish everyone out there a Happy New Year. Here's to hoping 2011 is much better. If you celebrate, and you drink, please do so in moderation. And if need be, get a designated driver or call a cab (if you plan ahead, program a cab company's phone number into your cellphone so you have it if you need it). Don't be one of those tragedies we seem to get every end of year from drinking and driving. Also, if you use fireworks, be careful. Have fun, be safe, and see you next year.

And do come back next year. Over at The Gypsy Librarian, I will be posting my end of year reading list and commentary. I read some interesting books last year, so if you are a reader, you want to come back for that.

    Friday, December 24, 2010

    Holiday Post 2010: Stuff and things

    Another popular thing to see this time of year are shopping guides and gift suggestions. Now, anyone can point to some big corporate site to get the usual. I am thinking a few more interesting things. By the way, if you have not done all your shopping, what are you waiting for? You should be done by now. You should definitely be done by now if you bought stuff online. However, if you need some real last minute ideas, or you just want some holiday amusement, stay a while and check some of these out.

    Spirits: Mostly alcoholic
    Stuff for the geek in your life
    A few naughty things (some may be a bit NSFW).
    Now if none of the above catch your fancy, you can always go with something a bit more basic like a calendar. You can't really go wrong with a new calendar. However, if you do not want to go with the same old cute kittens, or hot babes, or hot guys, or some other cuddly calendar, here are "Ten Odd and Awesome 2011 Calendars" and "Ten More Odd 2011 Calendars." Hey, you can't go wrong with outhouses, roadkill, or coffins, can you? Via Mental Floss blog.

    Now next, we have a series of lists for gifts or about gifts. These are not so much things to buy, but more things to help you remember times past or just wonder what were some people thinking when they gave this or that gift.

    • Now we all know that every year has a "must have gift," the one thing people are willing to be trampled for at the crack of dawn if need be. Esquire has a "A Timeline of Top Christmas Gifts. . . Ever." It starts with this year's iPad and then goes back in memory lane to things like the Furby and Cabbage Patch Kids. How many do you remember? 
    • Food Network Humor has a list of "10 Awful Gifts for Food Lovers and Food Network Fans." Food Network has pretty much fallen in quality over the years, and FNH does its best to document the decay in a fun way. Honestly, I do NOT want Paula Deen's Butt Massage; I do not know anyone who does either. 
    • Reader's Digest has "21 of the Worst Holiday Presents You've Ever Gotten." A toilet seat? But some of these are just thoughtless, like getting a fifth of whiskey to an alcoholic. 
    • And does anyone remember the good old days, you know when you could give a child a firearm, and no one made a fuss? Well, let us remember with "5 Old Christmas ads in which guns are great." Via AdFreak. Because nothing said Merry Christmas sonny like a fully loaded shotgun or rifle.
    • But maybe guns are not your thing. Ok, that is cool. Maybe instead you want a cute puppy. I mean, how can you not like a puppy, especially a toy puppy? How about a toy puppy that poops? Via AdFreak
    • Then again, there is always the gift of music. Christmas music is a very important tradition, so it could make a good gift to give a holiday album as a present. Unless it was one of these "10 Totally WTF Christmas Albums." Because nothing expresses the musical spirit of the holidays quite like A Rubber Band Christmas.Via Topless Robot.
    • And for kids of all ages, here we have "The 12 Greatest Holiday Action Figures." Some of these look pretty cool actually. Also via Topless Robot.
    • Now, in the interest of generosity and for our atheist friends, some may be interested not in gifts but in giving a little to charity. Here is a list of atheist/secular charities. After I heard about what the Salvation Army was doing with certain toy donations they did not like (and apparently since the media exposure they backpedaled a bit), I do feel my money could go someplace else. Via Effort Sisyphus
    • And finally, you can't have Christmas without a nativity set. The Rude Pundit shares his favorite sets and some additional comments on the season. 

        Holiday Post 2010: The Reader's Edition

        We continue our series of posts for the holiday season here at The Itinerant Librarian. As a librarian and avid reader, I feel it is essential to make an end-of-year post about reading and books. I will be posting my end-of-year reading list and commentary right after the end of 2010. I am trying to squeeze in one or two books more to the tally before the year ends. So, here we go:

        Book lists: The Usual Suspects

        More Book Lists: Things not as easy to find but just as cool


          Thursday, December 23, 2010

          Holiday Post 2010: The Basics

          We have almost made it to the end of 2010, and we have made it to the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, Festivus, or some other holiday (or you just enjoy having time off at this time of year), may you have a peaceful and safe time. As I have done in previous years (here is the one from last year if interested), here is my small gift to my three readers where I go around and collect interesting, amusing, or just miscellaneous things that may be of interest this holiday season.

          Once again, I have enough for a series of posts. So, we will start today with The Basics. I will also make a post for readers and another one for humor and lists. So, stay tuned this week. 

          The Basics
          • One of my favorite links this season is NORAD's Santa Tracker. For years now, we enjoy keeping track of Santa as he makes his way around the world. This never fails to make me smile. Apparently, they now even offer options to track Santa on your mobile phone (please, just don't do it while you are driving).
          • I can always count on the U.S. Census Bureau to put together a set of facts and figures about the holiday season. Here is their 2010 Holiday Season fact sheet.
          • And wow, PNC Financial Services is still doing their annual calculation of the Christmas Price Index. This year marks their 27th year doing it, and I always find it very entertaining. Here is the 2010 edition. Small note: the site does have an auto-play this year, so you may want to adjust volume accordingly. It does have a very interactive element I think kids will enjoy (as well as kids at heart).
          • You want to be safe this holiday season. From GovGab, here are some fire safety tips for your home.
          • GovGab also offers some tips and advice on "Drinking and Driving During the Holidays." The idea here is to be safe and responsible when you drink during the holidays. A drink here and there is a very traditional thing to do (if you choose to consume alcohol. If you do not, that is cool too, and you should not feel pressured to do so), but please, as the ads say, "enjoy responsibly." Do simple things like planning ahead before you go out and having a designated driver. If a designated driver is not an option, programming the number of a taxi cab company or two into your cellphone before you go party may be a good idea as well.
          • Did you send out Christmas greeting cards? Do you need or would like some last minute e-cards to send to friends? Of all places, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a set of winter holiday cards you can send that feature small health tips and some light humor. It never ceases to amaze me the little things that the federal government comes up with to educate people. 
          • Now some folks may want more traditional or classic Christmas cards. From Forgotten Bookmarks, a small online display of antique Christmas cards
          • The National Park Service has a page where you can learn more about the National Christmas Tree, the big one they put up every year in Washington, D.C. 
          • I hope you got your Christmas lights up. If not, odds are good  you may take a drive around your neighborhood and see what your neighbors did. Or you can just sit back, relax, and watch these clips of  "World's Most Outrageous Christmas-Light Displays" according to The Daily Beast.
          • The Daily Beast also has a list of "Holiday Songs You Haven't Heard." A part of me is thinking, after listening to a few of these, that there may be a reason they haven't been heard.
          • Now the holidays can be stressful. One of the stress factors can be money. You want to buy gifts, or you splurge a bit more than you should have, and then stress follows. Here are some ways to "have less holiday financial stress." Maybe you can also consider doing other things like giving the gift of time, or be creative with something homemade. Via AlterNet.
          • Now, do you know your holiday traditions? From Reader's Digest, here are "13 Things You Didn't Know about Christmas Traditions." The list is not comprehensive (I mean, where are things like Winter Solstice? Or even Hanukkah?), but it is nice. 
          • Now, when you go out, or stay home, for the holiday dinner, you need to mind your manners. Also from Reader's Digest, her are "5 Holiday Dining Etiquette Tips." The most important tip? Put the smartphone/Blackberry/iPhone away. 

            If you are traveling, may you have a safe and peaceful trip. If you are staying home, and people are coming over, I hope you have a peaceful time with little stress. However, if you have cats in the house, this may happen (Click to see video on YouTube).

            Online Gallery: Art of the American Soldier

            This looks really neat. This is a collection of paintings and drawings created by American soldiers, many of them unseen until now. You can view an online gallery now, and visit D.C. to see the exhibit, which will later go on tour. From the site:

            More than 15,000 paintings and sketches created by over 1,300 American soldiers in the line of duty have been in curatorial storage in  Washington, D.C. for decades, seldom made available for public viewing.  Art of the American Soldier will bring these powerful works of art into the spotlight at the National Constitution Center from September 24, 2010 through March 31, 2011.  The exhibition, featuring a never-before-seen collection, was created by the Center in partnership with the U.S. Army Center of Military History and the National Museum of the United States Army.  Following its world debut at the Center, the exhibition will begin a national tour.

            Video trailer below:

            Friday, December 17, 2010

            My final thoughts on Saul Alinsky's book

            This is the third installment of notes and small comments on my reading of Alinsky's Rules for Radicals (see my previous notes here and here). Most of this stuff are selections from my notes in my personal journal that I felt could be shared with my three readers.

            I found the next passage a bit depressing when thinking about it. However, it is an important concept in organizing and getting allies to your cause. Alinsky writes:

            "With very rare exceptions, the right things are done for the wrong reasons. It is futile to demand that men do the right thing for the right reason-- this is a fight with a windmill" (76). 

            Nice allusion to Don Quijote, but when you read the passage, it is clearly very Machiavellian. The basic message is who cares why your allies join you, just as long as they do join your cause and you make progress to a better world.

            A bit more on the organizer:

            "He should be able, with skill and calculation, to use irrationality in his attempts to progress toward a rational world" (76). 

            Basically, you make deals with people who have different values and agendas, but we all share a common goal, this in order to get said program or goal going.

            On leadership versus organizing, though I wonder if leadership here means more management (and I don't mean that as a positive). Alinsky writes,

            "This is the basic difference between the leader and the organizer. The leader goes on to build power to fulfill his desires, to hold and wield the power for purposes both social and personal. He wants power himself. The organizer finds his goal in creation of power for others to use" (80). 

            By that definition, a lot of librarians should strive to be organizers. It certainly is something I aspire to, not to mention that, by that definition, I care not for leadership (or management rather, which I think is really what we are looking at here, and yes, this would include most if not all politicians).

            On getting your "credentials" as an organizer:

            "The job of the organizer is to maneuver and bait the establishment so that it will publicly attack him as a 'dangerous enemy'" (100). 

            This may be something to aspire for, but it may be more difficult in librarianship where image is everything. A new or less experienced librarian (or we can add one on the tenure line but not tenured yet if in academia) trying this would be pretty much shunned and beaten down by the establishment. However a librarian with nothing to lose and a strong sense of what is right could certainly go for it. I know I do, or try to but there is still work to do. Librarians like the Connecticut Four or the Radical Reference volunteers make a good model for being a dangerous enemy to the establishment. Maybe there is some hope; after all, way I see it, a good librarian is a dangerous librarian.

            Monday, December 13, 2010

            Booknote: The Five-Year Party

            My review as I posted it on my GoodReads page.

            The Five-Year Party: How Colleges Have Given Up on Educating Your Child and What You Can Do About ItThe Five-Year Party: How Colleges Have Given Up on Educating Your Child and What You Can Do About It by Craig Brandon

            My rating: 2 of 5 stars

            Initially, this book started interesting, but after a while Brandon's strong biases, including his desire for more in loco parentis and treating 18-year-olds like minors, basically overwhelmed the book. That there is a slight hysterical and/or alarmist tone to the book probably does not help. And the thing is that a lot of what he writes about is true, and that something needs to be done about it. However, after a while, the messages seem to get lost in the alarmist writing.

            So, what are the basic messages of the book? Allow me to summarize, and for many, this may save you from reading the whole thing:

            *Kids are coming to college less prepared than ever. OK, this is not really new, and we could go on a new rant just discussing how public schools have basically become holding pens rather than actual educational institutions. Thus, they are less ready for college.

            *However, that they are unprepared for college does not seem to matter given that colleges are pretty much giving kids a not-quite-free pass. The big deal is that colleges have gone from educational institutions to business ventures. In the spirit of being business ventures, keeping the customers (i.e. the college students) who pay the tuition (and thus the revenue the college needs) happy at all costs becomes the main concern. Course too hard? Dumb it down? Professor grades too hard and makes you work? Get him or her to make class more fun, grade less, give less homework, and curve the grades. And if he does not comply, well, the customer (student) can get even at the end of year evaluation. You can rest assured that guy won't be getting tenure when review time comes around. This is another thing I could go on another rant about because working in higher education I have seen and lived it. As an adjunct many moons ago, I had students throw tantrums because they thought the classwork was too hard and interfered with their partying. And that is just one example.

            *College is not safe. We are dealing with kids who just became adults; legal adulthood in most places is 18 years of age whether Mr. Brandon and other paternalistic people like it or not. Sadly, for many of these new adults, it means extreme freedom, and they will do stupid and even deadly things. The problems really surface when the administration just wants to hide it using things like FERPA and just cooking the books in relation to the Clery Act. This is where the author and I disagree. Author advocates basically treating the college students like children again. I say, if they are adults, treat them as such. Let the local police handle them (after all, they are adults living in the college town) and let the students take their consequences. Expel them if need be too. This would make sense, but see the previous point about school being a business; you can't expel your source of revenue.

            *The college loans racket that basically turns students into oppressed indentured servants. And this is just going to keep getting worse as states and society give up on their social contract of investing in the future generations and the families have to turn more to loans to pay for their students' educations. Loan money that the colleges are glad to take (again, see school as a business pattern. Do you get the idea now?) without regard to whether the kids succeed or not. However, the longer the kids stay in school, the more money they get.

            The book makes some very important points. I do think a lot of parents should be reading it, especially the section at the end with the key questions and red flags about what makes a party school. By the way, I don't think a lot of what he says applies to only "party" schools. However, as I said, much of the good message gets lost in the demonizing of colleges; see the chapters on college safety. While there are dangers, Brandon makes it sound like most colleges in America are teeming with rapists, murderers, and drug dealers waiting for your kids to come out from their nightly Greek house drunken bacchanalias. Yes, there are dangers. Yes, in many instances, a lot of kids party way too much. No, not all campuses are like that, but the ones that are need to be exposed. And students certainly need to have better work ethic, but society needs to demand it too.

            So, overall, there is some food for thought here, but as a reading, it is not too great. Once you get the basic points, the rest seems a bit redundant.

            View all my reviews

            Friday, December 10, 2010

            Some more notes and thoughts prompted by Alinsky's book

            I continue writing down some notes I took from Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, which I recently read.Again, as I stated before, I am selecting segments from my notes in my personal journal.

            Alinsky provides a list of ideal elements for an organizer. He does admit it is idealized. He writes, "I doubt that such qualities, in such intensity, ever come together in one man or woman; yet the best organizers should have them all, to a strong extent, and any organizer needs at least a degree of each" (72). Alinsky does expand on each list item, and I jotted down some additional things as I was reading, but now I want to just jot down the list itself. I do think the list has traits that any librarian, especially one that does outreach and/or instruction should possess as well.

            The list of elements for an organizer, according to Alinsky:

            • Curiosity
            • Irreverence
            • Imagination
            • A sense of humor
            • A bit of blurred vision of a better world
            • An organized personality
            • A well-integrated political schizoid
            • Ego
            • A free and open mind, and political relativity
            I will admit now that there were a couple of list items that did not seem clear right away. As I read, I hoped that Alinsky would clarify (he did).

            Alinsky on the irreverence of organizers. This was a part of the book that really resonated with me, in large measure because it is stuff I believe in. He writes:

            "To the questioner nothing is sacred. He detests dogma, defies any finite definition of morality, rebels against any repression of a free, open search for ideas no matter where they may lead.He is challenging, insulting, agitating, discrediting. He stirs unrest. As with all life, this is a paradox, for his irreverence is rooted in a deep reverence for the enigma of life, and an incessant search for its meaning" (73). 

            This pretty much embodies what a good librarian should be, and what seems to be missing so often in our profession. Sure, a lot of librarians give lip service to the idea, but in reality they get very upset if anyone dares to question the world as they see it. The rest of the paragraph from Alinsky's writing is where I think he tempers things, offers some balance. He writes some more on irreverence:

            "It could be argued that reverence for others, for their freedom from injustice, poverty, ignorance, exploitation, discrimination, disease, war, hate, and fear, is not a necessary quality in a successful organizer. All I can say is that such irreverence is a quality I would have to see in anyone I would undertake to teach" (73). 

            And we'll wrap this up next time.

            Friday, December 03, 2010

            Booknote: Rules for Radicals

            I am starting this post by posting the review as I wrote it on my GoodReads profile. After that, I am going to add some additional thoughts and notes from the book that I want to expand upon here on the blog.

            The review:

            Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic RadicalsRules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul D. Alinsky

            My rating: 3 of 5 stars

            I did not rate this higher because there were moments when I found myself struggling with some of Alinsky's ideas. A part of me wondered what Alinsky would have made of the current political climate. Would he still recommend some of the ideas and rules he promoted? Would he have become more radical? Lost hope given that it is extremely difficult to keep hope in this current political environment in the U.S.? I guess as a reader I struggled because sometimes I thought he was too optimistic.

            And yet, if you read this book, you will find that Alinsky can be very Machiavellian. You will also find that a lot of what he writes about is very relevant today. To be honest, I found the last chapter to be very prophetic. So you see why I struggled a bit with it; there seem to be two sides.

            I picked the book up out of curiosity. I read somewhere that Barrack Obama had read it, and the book was an influence for his community organizing work. I can see why. This book is a primer for community organizing. If you want to learn what it takes to be an effective community organizer, this is a book you should be reading. Now, do keep in mind this book was written in 1971, so there are a lot of references to events prior to that year, a lot of things related to the struggle for civil rights, so on. Having some small grasp of American history at the time will probably be helpful because he uses a lot of examples to illustrate his principles and rules. However, the principles and rules are basically universal; they can be applicable today just as they were at the time the book was written. In addition, this is a book that will make you think. You may agree with some things, disagree with others, but overall, this is a useful book if you want to learn how to be a radical and a community organizer, and I don't mean radical in the negative sense certain people use it today. I think it is a book more people should be reading to educate themselves and others. Overall, I did like it.

            View all my reviews

            * * * *

            Additional notes and thoughts: If you just needed or wanted a quick review to convince you whether to read it or not, you can stop reading here. If you want to read more about what I got out of the book, notes I made from the book, and some further thoughts, read on. 

            As I mentioned in my brief review, I struggled with some of Alinsky's ideas at times, even as I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he wrote. I will mention too now that I was reading this at the time that I was also writing out my statements for my application to ACRL's Immersion Program Track, and some of his ideas were on my mind (I may blog on that later over in the professional blog). In addition to my curiosity about the book after reading somewhere that President Obama read it and the book had influence on his community organizing work, I picked up the book because I wondered if there was anything the book might say to me as an outreach librarian. Now that I have a bit of time to think about it, a good amount of work that an outreach librarian does is community and group organizing.  I found that the book does say a lot to librarians; well, it said a lot to this librarian, and it made me once more think about the issue about our neutrality illusion, whether as librarians we should remain perfectly neutral or engage in some degree of education and advocacy. The only reason I am posting about the book in my personal blog rather than on the professional blog is that the book, ostensibly, is political, and politics is something I try to limit to the unruly cousin here (we don't discuss politics in polite company, and The Gypsy Librarian is my polite company blog. Here, almost anything goes, which I suppose could prompt another discussion of where we draw our lines as librarians). This may well be a book that we may want librarians to read.

            Some notes I jotted down from the book, basically some things I wanted to remember. I am making a selection from what I jotted down in my personal journal. Since this could get long, I am will make another post with more notes:

            • A fundamental idea: ". . .one communicates within the experience of his audience--and gives full respect to the other's values. . . " (Prologue, xviii). 
            • "On another level of communication, humor is essential, for through humor much is accepted that would have been rejected if presented seriously" (xviii). 
            • On freedom: "People cannot be free unless they are willing to sacrifice some of their interests to guarantee the freedom of others. The price of democracy is the ongoing pursuit of the common good by all of the people" (xxv, emphasis in original). 
            On organizers:

            "The organizer, in his constant hunt for patterns, universalities, and meaning is always building up a body of experience.

            Through his imagination he is constantly moving in on the happenings of others, identifying with them and extracting their happenings into his own mental digestive system and thereby accumulating more experience. It is essential for communication that we know of their experiences. Since one can communicate only through the experiences of the other, it becomes clear that the organizer begins to develop an abnormally large body of experience.

            He learns the local legends, anecdotes, values, idioms. He listens to small talk. He refrains from rhetoric foreign to the local culture. . . .

            And yet the organizer must not try to fake it. He must be himself" (70). 

            Good lessons for outreach here.

            And we'll continue next time.

            Signs that the economy is bad, December 2, 2010 edition

            Welcome to another edition of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is where I go find those oh so subtle signs that the economy bad. Because big shot pundits can tell you about the usual unemployment rates, mortgage issues, people losing their houses, so on. I use my impressive and powerful research skills (ok, just surf the web and have some well selected RSS feeds) to find those oh so subtle hints. I usually try to keep this semi-regular feature (as in I do it when I feel like or have time) fairly light, but given the current climate, it is getting harder to keep the light tone. So this week I may be a bit more serious. Anyhow, here are the highlights for the week.

            • Well, it seems like less people are using credit cards these days (story from CNBC). I know that I am not using them, and this may be a very small silver lining in the gray cloud of the bad economy. Considering the predatory practices of the credit card companies and banks, in many cases exploitative, I am not too sympathetic to the card issuers. And contrary to the article spin, I don't think it is all non-voluntary (i.e. someone who got bad credit rating over some missed payment or two and the bank just wrote off the debt, namely sold it to some vulture collector and shut down the account). This may also be that "a significant portion of the decrease in card usage reflects decisions by cardholders to stop using credit." Don't get too excited though: credit cards are not going away yet. A hat tip to Americablog.
            • And you know things can't be that much better when students in the U.S. are looking for U.K. schools as a bargain in terms of tuition (story from The Wall Street Journal). According to the article, "as tuition at U.S. colleges increasingly becomes less affordable for many—and as spots at the most competitive institutions more and more resemble gold dust—some American high schoolers are looking to the United Kingdom to meet their educational needs." I get the impression we are still looking at kids from fairly wealthy homes; I just don't think kids that are mostly headed to the local community college or maybe their state's 4-year college are looking across the pond as an option to save on the tuition. 
            • For Spain, gum being too sticky is a problem. So to lower the costs of cleaning up after people who spit their gum on the ground, they want to make gum less sticky (story from The Guardian). According to the article, "Barcelona's city hall estimates it scrapes up 1,800 bits of gum a day from its streets - at a cost of more than €100,000 (£85,000) a year." By the way, most gum in the world is made by two companies, according to the article, Cadbury and Wrigley, which are American (or American-owned now. Cadbury is owned by Kraft, and Wrigley by Mars). Take that for what it's worth. 
            • Food banks are bracing themselves for more people with need for food as unemployment benefits may lapse.  I used the link from Crooks and Liars because I want people to also see the Dickensian image they use about the poor and workhouses given that, at the rate things are going and given the lack of compassion and common decency in this nation overall, going back to things like debtor's prisons and workhouses may be the next option. Oh wait, in some parts of the U.S., it seems prison for debtors are making a comeback