Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A few Thanksgiving 2011 links

Photo used by Creative Commons License.  From Flickr user riptheskull

Ah, the start of the holiday season is upon us. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. Like many folks, I have the day off, and I am planning on spending it with family. As a little treat for my two readers, here are some links to entertain and maybe help them learn a thing or two. I wish everyone out there celebrating a safe and happy holiday.

  • As tradition dictates, President Obama has pardoned a turkey for Thanksgiving. (link to C-SPAN). 
  • A big fuss this time around is the fact that stores are wanting to start the Black Friday deals much earlier, as in cutting into the Thanksgiving holiday itself. I think this is just excessive on the part of the greedy merchants who honestly need to have a little respect for their workers. Then again, if people are willing to enable this greed by shopping when they should be with their families, then I better not hear them whining later about having to work long hours or some other family values nonsense. The nice folks at Next Media Animation have a nice summary of Black Friday 2011. (link to video)
  • Spending time with family is always an issue over the holidays. Whether a positive or negative experience, holidays can be somewhat stressful. The Gentlemen share their rant on family and the holidays (link to video-warning for some strong language).I may also share this when I get to the Christmas posts later given it is applicable.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau has their feature with facts and figures for Thanksgiving 2011. For example, did you know that 2.01 billion bushels is The total volume of wheat — the essential ingredient of bread, rolls and pie crust — produced in the United States in 2011? Go over and learn more. 
  • For parents, teachers, and kids, here are some "Resources for teaching and learning about American Thanksgiving." Via Free Technology for Teachers blog.
  • has some ideas on Thanksgiving cocktails as well as links to other meal suggestions. It may be worth a look if you are looking to make things a bit more interesting for the meal.
  • Are you going someplace for Thanksgiving? Did you promise to bring something? This handy guide may help you decide what to bring. Via Chow.
  • So, you've eaten, and you want to go shopping. However, the prospect of getting up at the crack of dawn, or staying up all night, to stand in a line is not appealing. Well, hire Dotty to stand in line for you. Here is her advertisement. Via Retail Hell Underground. I think this also qualifies as a sign that the economy is bad. 
  • And what kind of librarian would I be if I did not offer some reading suggestions? Via NPR, here are "still more tryptophan-tastic tomes to see you through your turkey coma."  Note also the links they include to additional selections. 

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    The Mandarin Quiz

    I have not done one of these online quizzes once in a while, so since it is Friday, I figured it is time to amuse myself once again. My two readers pretty much know the drill that I take it easy on Fridays. In this particular case, the quiz, for what little it may be worth, is surprisingly accurate in describing me. For instance:

    • I do think much of the world would be better if people were better informed. Add to it that skills in critical thinking and information literacy would help. Watching Fox News, reading The Drudge Report, or depending on other "sources" of dubious reputation does not count as being informed. 
    • I do hate when ignorant or dishonest people climb to power, which is why overall I find politics (especially in the U.S.) and politicians to be among the most despicable people on the face of the Earth. This is followed by the asshat enablers who keep voting them in. Some of those asshats may be uninformed, but a lot are just willfully ignorant sheep, and those are the really dangerous ones. 
    • The only thing it may not have gotten as accurate is the belief in people making a difference. I honestly struggle with that, especially these days. Maybe when I was younger and more idealistic, but these days, even as an educator and librarian, I honestly struggle with the idea. I want to believe it, but I do not see much evidence it is possible in the current corporate oligarchic environment. And yet, I continue to work as a librarian in the hope, infinitesimal as it may be, that working to promote use of good information sources will somehow make a difference. 

    At any rate, see below and then feel free to take the quiz yourself to see how you do:

    I'm a Mandarin!

    You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

    Talent: 46%
    Lifer: 36%
    Mandarin: 59%

    Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

    Reading about the reading life, November 18, 2011

    Here we go again with a few items of interest I've recently read related to books and reading. Basically, these are articles or blog posts I have read that I think those of you out there who are readers and/or love books may appreciate as well. Some of these pieces give me idea for books I may want to read, which means my list of books to be read just keeps growing. Not that it is a bad thing. For this week, I think the one on the funeral books was my favorite, or at least the one I found most fascinating. If you read any of these, let me know if you found them interesting as well and any other comments. Tips for articles on the reading life you think I should read are also welcomed.

    • An essay on the friendship between Jorge Luis Borges and Macedonio Fern├índez. Macedonio is often seen as "a wizened hermit, devoted to chess and esoteric speculation, a genius in the raw, who does not even bother to capture his creativity in writing or publish it." Some say he had a lot of influence on Borges. Others say it was more, but there certainly was a friendship and, to use another term from the article, an intellectual infatuation. Interesting piece on Argentine literature and two of its great writers. What united them? Many things, such as "their proclivity for metaphysics, their unflagging interest in examining the nature of reality, the mystery of being, the fabric of time and space." I have read much of Borges, and now I am curious to seek out a bit of Macedonio's works. Via Quarterly Conversation.
    • Laura Miller, writing for Salon, describes "Reading Retreats: Paradise for Book Lovers." The idea sounds pretty simple: take a vacation devoted to reading. This is an idea I would not mind trying out. For me, I would prefer reading books, but magazines would be ok. The materials would be in print, as I am not a fan of e-book readers nor reading on a screen for long. So, this vacation would mean minimal Internet or none at all and definitely no phone. I also loved the idea of bibliotherapists mentioned in the article, folks who, if you need a reading list, will do a consultation with you and create a customized reading list for you. Sounds like good old reader's advisory. It also sounds like a job I would love to have. 
    • Scott Esposito reviews a new translation by Anne McLean of Julio Cort├ízar's work, a prose poem, From the Observatory.  The review gives a pretty good overview of the work. I may look for the translation, but I will certainly try to find the original in Spanish. Via The National (United Arab Emirates).
    • Sarah, at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, asks about organizing your reading lists. Do you keep track of your books online, say with GoodReads? Do you make lists? I will admit that, even though I am a librarian, I could probably work on organizing my reading lists a bit better. For one, I do not have all of them on GoodReads. I have some in handwritten notes or in my journals. However, for me, a bit of that semi-controlled chaos is part of what makes the serendipity of finding something new to read fun So, folks out there, if you feel moved to satisfy my curiosity a bit, how do you organize your reading lists? Do you even organize or make reading lists? 
    • This is something new I learned about from this article: Thai funeral books. These are books that not only serve to provide a memorial to a dead person, but they also serve as valuable cultural artifacts. From the article: "The text and photographs are not always grim, mournful or poignant. The publications can also include eulogies or cheerful tales by relatives and friends, plus Buddhist prayers, descriptions of the deceased's favorite recipes and other intriguing data." The books are usually given away for free at cremations, and they range from very opulent for the wealthy to simple stapled pamphlets for the poor. Via CNNGo.
    • Via The Reporter (Ethiopia), an article looking at Ethiopian writers of the 60s as well as a bit on Ethiopian reading and literary society. The article is "Generation of Literary Firebrands." A hat tip to The Literary Saloon
    • Via the Kyiv Post (Ukraine), a story about local book collectors who have done work preserving local history. Now their concern is that they may not have anyone to pass on their collections when they are gone.  One of the collectors says something that resonates with me. From the article: “'I believe we are the last generation of people who read books,' Bilokin said. 'Young people think they can find an answer to any question on the Internet. But that’s not true.'” A hat tip to The Literary Saloon

      Friday, November 04, 2011

      Signs that the economy is bad, November 4, 2011

      And here we go with another week of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. As I have stated before, this feature started out as a lighthearted thing, but it seems events are just getting more and more serious. Still, I scour the Internet and other sources to find those oh-so-subtle signs that things are bad because any pundit can spin numbers, but in the end, it's the little details. I often try to find things like the story I am highlighting this week about the poor and the need for cars, stories about things we often take for granted. As a wise man once told me, and I slightly paraphrase, "there but for (the deity of choice), go I." It is a saying that a lot of people, including a vast majority of the locals here, conveniently tend to forget. Anyhow, here are your signs for this week:

      • I think this story pretty much speaks for itself. A man robs a bank, then he turns himself in. Why? He was homeless, and he needed a place to stay. And hey, in prison they do put a roof over your head and feed you three meals a day (unless it is Texas, in which case they feed  you one meal less on the weekends). Story via Fox News 6. 
      • A college that used to be free is looking into charging tuition. Read the story about Cooper Union, "the New York City college founded in 1859 to provide free education for the working class." Via The New York Times.  
      • This is just wrong. A grocery store refused to let a woman pay a grocery bill in quarters (via KATU).  She was basically in hard straits, and this was the change she had. I think the comment at Jezebel, where I first saw the story, says it all: "It's legal for stores to refuse to accept certain types of payment, but hassling impoverished customers still makes you a jerk." Exactly. The woman did her best to wait until the register was empty, and she gave the cashier the heads up of what she would be doing to pay. Just count the darn quarters and don't make a big deal out of it. Doing so just makes you look, well, like a jerk. And this tough economy, we are probably going to see a lot more people scraping change from under the couches, coffee cans, change jars, etc. who may or not be able to turn it into bills. Anyhow, I don't get the fuss. The Better Half, who works in a restaurant (fast food) says they are always glad when someone brings in change; they can always use change. Sure, they may prefer you don't hold up a line paying, but they will take it. As always in a case when they screw up, the store's higher ups issued the non-apology of "sorry for the inconvenience." No, that is just an inconvenience. You basically chose to humiliate and harass a poor woman for no other reason than some petty policy your peon should have been able to make an exception on for the sake of human decency. 
      • Many folks take for granted the ability to have a car to get to and from work. I am fortunate that, even being in the low 1%, I have a car to get me to work. Many people do not have that, and if you are poor trying to get a job, and you lack a car, the odds are even more against you.  According to the article from the Los Angeles Times, "About 1 in 4 needy U.S. families do not have a car, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. That's a serious handicap for the millions of Americans who don't have access to robust mass transit." Maybe if we want to help alleviate poverty, helping those folks get a reliable car to make it to work and back home might be a good way to use some stimulus money. Of course, that would imply having politicians and folks who care about the poor, something seriously lacking these days. 
      • And hey, in Cuba, you will now be able to have private home sales. Details here from the BBC.  However, I first saw the story in El Universal over here (Spanish). Feel free to read the source that works best for you. 
      • Want some Wild West memorabilia and artifacts? It turns out Harrisburg, PA, one of the first places you think of when  you think "Western," is trying to sell off a pretty sizable collection it acquired over the years for a Western museum that never happened. Via Yahoo! News. 

        Photo credit: Photo used by terms of Creative Commons license,via Flickr user Anders Vindegg,