Friday, December 26, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Chavez seems to have two things that he's got to deal with. How is he going to balance the 36% inflation and the mandatory belt tightening with his bid to become dictator for life?
How is going to blame us for this?
Watch out for this Wiley Fool. A military man knows that a military creates jobs when wars are manufactured. The price of oil goes up when a war is manufactured. Powerful leaders tend to stay in power when a war is manufactured.
My guess? Civil war, or close- using troops to aid his buddy in Bolivia. He (hopefully) won't move into Columbia, but he doesn't need to in order to solidify his power and squelch the opposition back home!
Posted by Django Bango at 1:31 PM
Friday, December 5, 2008
You know those Southwest Airlines commercials that ask you, "Wanna get away?" Well, yes. Generally I do. It's not that I don't like Texas. I really, really, do. I just want to get away. It's not my fault, anyway. It's genetic.
As a kid, I lived in five different houses before I started Kindergarten. That house lasted until the end of 3rd grade (why do Canadians say grade 3?). Then, there was a whirlwind of moving inbetween my 8th birthday (spent on a plane crossing the international date line, if I remember correctly) and my 12th birthday. There were really too many homes, and flights, and countries, and cities, and adventures to count here. Sure, there were some 4 month stays here and there, but that was about it. Then I settled down in La Porte for 6 whole years. Then, right after graduation, left and began again- though spending most of the next few year somwhere in Texas.
In college, my now wife and I, lived in the same place for a few years, but I got away to Japan for a semester. Now, we've been where we are in the metroplex for a while, and I'm feeling the urge.
I keep telling myself that I just haven't found the right place yet, but I've seen what happens when people never do. My dad's still got it bad, but is too physically limited to act on it. Biology has forced him to one place.
I don't want my son to get what I call "the disease" but I want to move. I feel like I need to move. I need to find a place I can stay. The problem is, I'm not sure what that will take.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Do you ever come across someone who is so good at something that it makes you realize how awful you would be at it? A person who just raised the bar so high that no matter how much you practice your Fosbury impersonation, you know you'll never pass over it?
John Irving is like that to me. I get a story in my head, and then I read one of his books and realize how much better the story would be in J.I. penned it. Then I get sad. Susanna Clarke also had this effect on me, albeit her repertoire is much more limited than Mr. Irving's.
I guess it's much like when I used to think I could play baseball well, until I played with people who could actually play well. Sure I tried to get better. I still love the game, and I can hit the hell out of a pitching machine, but I know if I took the field with someone with real talent, I would be tempted to put my bat back in the hall closet where it now resides full time.
Currently I am reading A Son of the Circus. Half way through and I think that every paragraph is as good as it could be, and they are all very good.
So, I guess I should thank John Irving for showing me what can be done with words, and curse him for bringing to light exactly how much better he is than I.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
From Yahoo news
TOKYO – A 43-year-old player in a virtual game world became so angry about her sudden divorce from her online husband that she logged on with his password and killed his digital persona, police said Thursday.
The woman, who has been jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his ID and password to log onto the popular interactive game "Maple Story" to carry out the in May, a police official in the northern city of Sapporo said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of department policy.
"I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry," the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations.
The woman, a piano teacher, had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said.
She has not yet been formally charged. If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison or a fine up to $5,000.
Players in "Maple Story" create and manipulate digital images called "avatars" that represent themselves, while engaging in relationships, social activities and fighting monsters and other obstacles.
In, players often abandon their inhibitions, engaging in activity online that they would never do in the real world. For instance, sex with strangers is a common activity.
The woman used login information she got from the 33-year-old office worker when their characters were happily married to kill the character. The man complained to police when he discovered that his online avatar was dead.
The woman was arrested Wednesday and taken 620 miles from her home in southern Miyazaki to be detained in Sapporo, where the man lives, the official said.
The police official said he did not know if she was married in the real world.
Bad online behavior is usually handled within the rules set up by online worlds, which can ban miscreants or take away their virtual possessions.
In recent years, virtual lives have had consequences in the real world.
When bad deeds lead to criminal charges, prosecutors have found a real-world activity to cite — as in this case, in which the woman was charged with inappropriate computer access.
In August, a woman was charged in Delaware with plotting the real-life abduction of a boyfriend she met through the virtual reality Web site " ."
In Tokyo, a 16-year-old boy was charged with stealing the ID and password from a fellow player of an online game in order to swindle virtual currency worth $360,000.
Virtual games are popular in Japan, and "Second Life" has drawn a fair number of Japanese participants. They rank third by nationality among users, after Americans and Brazilians.
Posted by Django Bango at 1:01 PM
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Hello everyone. I've started a new company called Personal Thinker. It's a problem solving consulting company. Currently, we are open to pro bono work in order to build our reputation. We are also interested in other innovative thinkers to join our ranks as partners in the venture. Don't worry, no money is required to buy in, only the willingness to lend your opinions and thoughts to problems that offer no immediate payout.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Today is my son’s first birthday. This, of course, has forced me to take pause and evaluate the state of the world, and what I can do to improve it. Going around (and around) in my head is the only realistic thing I can do to change the world for the better- I must develop and record a complete secular moral code.
I have come, firmly, to the conclusion that morality without religion is no only possible, but necessary in order to positively advance global society. We have laws, yes, but these should not be confused with this concept of secular morality. Laws regulate the transactions between people and/or the state. Secular morality isn’t this. The rub comes in defining this morality. It could too easily degenerate into a monologue on the “World According to Spencer.” This brings rise to the first rule of secular morality- all statements included in the moral code must be objectively and logically reasoned.
The lack of logic in religious morality is, simply stated, unacceptable. However, the fact that these moral codes have been collected, written down, and preached, has allowed them to sustain for millennia. These, combined with the promise of an afterlife, are advantages that secular morality must address. It cannot address, due to its very nature, issues of afterlife; but secular morality can be collected, transcribed, and preached. This, I have concluded, is what MUST be done. This will be our legacy, our gift to future generations.
This is a movement. It is a revolution against subjective moral codes.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
Posted by Django Bango at 9:24 PM
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Posted by Django Bango at 3:51 PM
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I remember, as I was finishing up my undergraduate degree, one of my professors commenting that there was a time when religion was a major force for social and economic progress, but now it might be a weight around the neck of developing nations. (I'm paraphrasing because it's been a while.) The bottom line is he was right. I thought so at the time and I'm more convinced now than ever.
I think this needs no further explanation, but I will just ask anyone who disagrees to look at the prosperity of secular nations as compared to those governed by religious ideals. I think this is true locally as well as on the global scale. Now, I'm not condemning religion. I am only reiterating that separation of church and state is the best idea in the history of government.
My argument, however, is only related to this in the aspect that members of religions identify themselves as members of that specific group. Shiite, Sunni, Hindu, Buddhist, Unitarian, Methodist, etc., are all ways people identify themselves. Here are some others that might be familar: republican, democrat, American, white, black, Jew, immigrant, native, Texan, New Yorker, Red Sox fan. I have no problem with these groups, or identifying yourself as being a member of one. No, my problem comes whenever people complain about things done to their people.
Did that make sense? In other words, I think one thing that oppresses a people is the individuals complaining about what is oppressing their people. This isn't the only thing to blame, surely, but it definitely doesn't help. Calling on all members of a group to rally around for justice for that group only prevents the members of that group from achieving what they could have otherwise. I feel like I'm rambling, but stay with me. I think I'll be able to get it out soon. Here it goes:
If all members of a group were to strive for what was best for them as individuals I believe this group as a whole would overcome oppression much faster than trying to rally the efforts of the individual to the needs of a group. There are times when the needs of the group and the best actions of the individual coincide, but there are all too often times when the individual sacrifices for the group unnecessarily. The individuals who do focus on themselves first of often berated by members of the group who complain that they "don't give enough back," and are called names and often ostracized. This leads individuals to focus too much on the group and no progress is made.
How often is progress made by a group as opposed to an individual? Please, let me know if you think I'm wrong. All I ask is that you explain your reasons.
Monday, April 14, 2008
My brain has been in a fuzz for the past few days. I think it's the changing weather and the changing jobs. These last few weeks have been pretty hectic for me; I feel like I've been running everywhere for no reason whatsoever.
Part of this I blame on American Airlines. They cancled my return flight from Houston. That I wasn't too upset about. Cancellations happen, as everyone now knows. What really peaved me was the quality of the hotel they put me in, the $10 dinner voucher they provided, and their complaint department.
First, the hotel room was nasty. Plain and simple. It wasn't even at the airport, so I had to wake up early to catch a shuttle the next morning. Second, there were no places to eat within safe walking distance from the hotel, so I had to order food in. The only places that accepted the AA voucher had a minimum order of $12 to deliver! Third, I could check in 24 hours in advance via the internet, but they couldn't shoot me an e-mail that they'd canceled my flight?! At least then I could have kept the rental car for another day and not been stranded!
Ok, so I'm leaving the public library life behind on Thursday. I will now be a business librarian and researcher. It will be nice. I'm a little scared, but in a good way. I just hope I can get my brain shaved clean of fuzz before that happens!
Posted by Django Bango at 5:41 PM
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I know how a raven is like a writing desk: Neither one of them subsidize your lack of office supplies.
I'm going to quickly list things that I shouldn't have to do for you. Trust me, it's better if I don't.
I should not have to find you a passage to read for your church service, change the text size so you can read it, and delete the source it came from so you can hand it out without that web address.
I should not provide you with staples, paper, tape, scissors, or any other office or school supply that you forgot to bring with you today (and no, the library does not have poster board you can use!).
I should not find you a book of extremely detailed instructions on how to start and operate your specialized (obscure) small business.
I should not have to tell you that you will not get a free X box for clicking on the link.
I should not have to tell you what your password is.
I should not have to tell you how to make a fire, or do anything else on Runescape.
I should not have to proofread your resume, college scholarship essay, homework, grant application or divorce forms (or type them up for you) and make sure the formatting is correct.
I should not have to design your business/event flyer.
I should not have to teach your child math or help him with his homework.
I should not have to tell you what tax forms you need.
I should not have to tell you what divorce forms you need.
There are several other things I am borderline on. These include: show you how to change the layout of your myspace profile. Show you how to upload photos to myspace. Show you how to download music. Show you how to buy something on Ebay. Show you how to sell something on Ebay. Show you how to use Craig's List. Show you how to apply for a job online. And many more.
The reason I am borderline on these is that I know you probably need them and there is no immediate harm in them, but it's the future needs that scare me. If you need an e-mail address to apply for the job, it's pretty certain they're going to expect you to know how to check it. If you are going to sell something on Ebay, are you going to need a paypal account? Then what happens if you can't access that again? Do you see a trend.
What I can do is get you resources to show you how to do these things. They will require learning and time on your part. But then you won't ever have to ask anyone again.
Monday, March 10, 2008
So, yesterday I mowed the yard for the first time on '08. Of course this made me sad that the recent snows were the end of winter. Really, though, it made me sad thinking of how many more time's I'll have to mow again before the grass resumes its hibernation.
It's not that I mind tending to the yard work... well, it's not that I mind tending to the yard work nearly as much as I used to. Something about when the grass you're trimming is your own, you don't mind the sweat so much. Is this just me? The mowing isn't what gets me anyway; it's the weed eating. I've purchased 3 weed eaters in 3 years and I haven't liked any of them. Maybe I'll have to bite the bullet and go with gas: environment be damned.
Anyway, this was just to signal that spring has sprung and now things will be different again at work. We're getting a thousand calls a day about help in filing taxes (more than half of which seem to come from really old people wondering about the new rebates. "I haven't filed taxes since 1979," they say, "but I want that $300!"
We're gearing up for summer reading program, which will soon invade everything we do to one level or another. I'll just say right here that I don't get summer reading programs. I just don't. From what I can tell, these programs save money in education by keeping up reading levels during the summer months. Ok, let the ISD pay for it! I'm not a teacher!
Sorry, enough on that. A coworker of mine told me that she saw an article on social networking sites that benefit librarians, but that I probably knew all of them already. I didn't know all of them. Some I had recently discovered, like ning. However, one really caught my eye with a high level of interest. I've got a public page HERE, but it's the private page that really intrigues me. It's like a homepage from yahoo, only better. I can get what i want when I want it, and then share it if I want to with the world! They even call it my universe so I can feel really special. I have a feeling Warren Ellis needs to know about this! He probably already does.
How does this work for libraries? What if small libraries could use this Ginger application as their website? Delivering information on all topics without having to host anything or have any web guru on staff. What could be next?
Ok, so maybe that won't work for most places. But how about THIS vision of the library of the future: Everything is labeled with rfid tags and stored in no particular order. The stacks are open for browsing, but most browsing is done via virtual 3d model. In fact, when a book is searched for, instead of giving a Dewey call number the computer screen pops up a read blip on the 3D library projection, with directions of exactly where to find this book on the shelf. No more missing books. No more need for accurate shelving. Digital browsing (perhaps even mechanical pickers that grab books from their locations and deliver them to you), all from your hand held device! Now, the downside (?) is that when it's overdue they can track the book's tag to that spot under your bed where you lost it and send the pickers on a black ops mission to your house for timely recovery.
You might want to arm yourself in defense. These pickers can get pretty mean.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
It first became evident to me in “library school”, and now it is ever-present in my professional life. I must admit I feel like somewhat of a traitor and whistleblower in telling everyone about this, but here it goes.
Who can name what the number one duty of a librarian is? I can. I bet mine is different than yours. I should warn you: If you don’t want to know the real answer and be forced to face the truth that you have buried deep down so you won’t have to think about it, then you should not continue reading this blog.
The real, honest, and truthful number one duty of a librarian is to ensure that there are librarians and jobs to pay them. Ask any librarian and they are filled with excuses and reasons why their profession is vital to society. Hell, they can probably even regurgitate an argument for why we need to provide “Snakes on a Plane” to our patrons. We protect free speech and access to information. We facilitate education and societal enrichment. We preserve culture for reference and future study. All of these might be true, but it seems more and more to me that they are benevolent side effects to the real aim of the profession.
If all of these were the true reasons, it would be enough and we would also be responsible enough to understand that sacrifices must be made to ensure that we reach our aims. But it’s not. Instead we keep statistics, find ways to inflate them, and get rid of items that don’t facilitate their growth. Programs are held simply to increase the number of bodies that enter the library. Drives are held with marketing campaigns to increase membership whether or not the people actually ever come in the doors at all. All of this so we can show how much people like us and use us. All of this to justify our budgets and make sure the money will be there for us next year. All of this to make sure that we can keep on doing these same things in order to keep in getting more numbers in order to keep on requesting more money. Why else is funding and legislation a higher priority of the ALA than intellectual freedom?
Now, the argument can be made that these things are necessary to make sure that money is there enough to allow us to fulfill those “real reasons” I mentioned above. I don’t buy it. If that were the case then the reasons themselves would be argument enough. Why the constantly increasing need for positions and financing? Why all the money spent telling people how great we are? I’ve told you why: Because we want to keep getting paid.
Feel free to tell me how wrong I am; but limit the swearing in your personal insults please.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I recently answered a question on one of Woody Evans' blogs with this statement:
"I'm all about growing in leaps and bounds though; any other type of growth is just falling behind at this point for the profession."
Of course this got me to thinking.
For libraries, or perhaps any other profession, how much is wasted in growing incrementally? How many libraries purchased Betamax or Laserdisc media only to regret it sooner rather than later? I personally owned a portable minidisc player... and I'm just now coming to grips with the shame. The world is rife with digital media formats that can no longer be accessed because their technology is dead. So this makes me ask, when should we migrate? The cost of staying current is immense, but is it higher than never changing?
Is it just the fate of libraries to lag behind trends due to cost considerations? Is this what we've learned from 8 tracks and HDDVDs? And on that note, is it worth getting blue ray dvd players until they are as common as the old ones? Otherwise, don't we, by default, limit the patrons we serve to those who can afford the high end technologies?
So, which is better? To take technological risks and hope you guessed right, or to stick to your guns until the technology is so commonplace that your patrons demand it? In my opinion, this is much like everything else: a little mix of both is what is needed. Gamble occasionally on those things that would really provide a benefit (and cross your fingers hoping that others will follow suite), but also wait until other technologies have been thoroughly tested.
But how do we know which ones are worth the gamble? The same way the pros do- research.
And let me wrap up by reminding everyone of one thing: We should use technology to solve problems, not to make things shiny. (this of course, is professionally speaking. Personally, shiny is good enough.)
Saturday, February 9, 2008
I have been looking at this program called Scratch lately, thinking that maybe it is the future of internet based gaming. Games created by users for users. Sounds nice, right? Perhaps this will open gaming in new directions with truly original and fun games that business insiders haven't thought of yet. Does it? No, unfortunately not.
It's made for kids to program with, but the "non programming language savvy" user can find it a lot of fun too. The problem is that the games people are creating are nothing new. Users are copying formats of games they already know. There are many versions of Pong, Brickles, and Mazes instead of fresh ideas. Perhaps the ability to copy and tweak other members projects leads to this, but I must say I'm disappointed. Now, the graphics are limited and the majority of the users are still quite young, but I was hoping for some new ideas in gaming. Where are they?
I might be wrong. There are 7736 projects and I haven't checked them all. Someone show me the way. User generated content is limited to the creativity of the users... what does this say about the future of gaming? Oh well, I guess it only takes a few visionaries to change everything.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
There's been a lot of talk over the past few years (at least) that the book is dead, or dying, or will die, etc. In fact, a recent magazine had a cover that proclaimed that the book is not dead, it's only gone digital. It was refering to the Kindle (This is another dumb idea that will go the way of the e-book, I don't care what they say at Amazon!). The Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently ran an article claiming that digital media are assisting the decline of the printed page.
I would like to start by saying, "Don't believe the Hype!" The book is not dead, will not be dead, and it's current state of "liveliness" is not attributable to Harry Freakin' Potter! This, however, is another discussion. There is no denying that reading is less popular than it used to be. Honestly, there just were fewer ways to be entertained at one point in time. However, I argue that literacy levels are at an all time high (it should be noted that I have no statistics to back this up... but it sounds right), at least compared to other centuries. Why, then, is the book not the reading material of choice?
Laziness. Growing masses of stupid people. People magazine. There are lots of causes. But one cause that everyone has overlooked is found in the most unexpected of places: Your public and academic libraries.
How, you say? How in the world could institutions synonymous with the protection and preservation of everything books and writing be responsible for their loss of popularity? I will tell you.
Once upon a time libraries had books... and more books... and magazines... and reports... and newspapers... and maybe microfilm and a photocopier. People who liked books would come to the library to check them out, or research in the library from the reference collection. Everyone was happy. Those who didn't like to read, or didn't need to research, stayed away and put their time into other pursuits. One day, however, someone decided that libraries needed to justify their own existence and the budget that this existence mandated.
They needed numbers:
How many people used the building?
How many items checked out?
For both of these, more is better. How do we get more numbers? I know, lets get stuff in here that people want, not what they need. And let's try to attract people who wouldn't normally come here. While we're at it we will justify these new additions in a mission statement of some sort that explains that these items are informational as well. So you got movies. Not just nonfiction movies, or quality movies, but the movies people really want to see (especially people who weren't already using the library). This way numbers would soar, and everyone would say how much they like the library. After all, they are providing for free what companies like blockbuster actually want money for!
This is not so much where academic libraries helped the decline.
These libraries teamed with their public cousins and provided Internet access. This access is not just for research, mind you, or reading e-books (which are all but dead and highly annoying and impractical to use), but for chatting, checking myspace, paying bills, rotten.com, Runescape, etc. This really brought the people out of the woodwork. They can sit in the public library, lie about what they look like and get all hot and bothered while someone at another library types dirty to them. And are there just a few of these computers restricted in use? No, there are as many as the library can afford to meet demand.
Look at the number of people who love the library rise!
Meanwhile, no one stops to think that public Internet access is not synonymous with disseminating information. No one stops to think about the negative effects of the library, of all places, dumbing down what it does in order to have some meaningless numbers to show someone who probably has never even been inside a library!
Where are the books? The good books? Thrown away because they didn't check out as much as the Manga. Crime and Punishment... make way for Dawg the Bounty Hunter's Biography, ON CD! Instead of telling someone that they can find a picture of that tree for their biology project in a field guide, we tell them to do a Google image search for a Crepe Myrtle. Instead of pointing them to a good book for pleasure, we take them to the DVD section and give them something that will kill more than 1.5 hours but less than 2. Why? Because we would get less people in the library if we offered research computers, word processing computers, and books; and anyway, it's their right to be able to attach pictures from their camera phone to an email to this guy they've been chatting to (only, can we upload it for them, because they're no good with the internets).
Shame on us.
We have the responsibility to be cultural leaders, not a place that gets whatever people want to get them in the door. We can carry quality items from every branch of media and do well. We can get good movies, maybe movies they never would have seen otherwise, and people will watch them. We can guide and, yes, limit what the public can use the Internet for and we would have a much better served patron population, albeit slightly smaller. But let's face it, if they don't need what we've got then they don't need to be in a library.
So down with kowtowing to popular demand! Up with leadership!
Who are we to choose what we carry?
Who are we to be cultural leaders?
WE ARE LIBRARIANS, DAMNIT, AND THAT'S WHAT WE DO!