Recent Acquisitions

Ancient Iraq by Georges Roux, Third Edition
I've been working my way slowly through Lawrence Boadt's excellent Reading the Old Testament:  An Introduction.  It's the kind of book that needs to be read with other books:  the Bible, of course, but also other works on the ancient Near East, like Seton Lloyd's The Archaeology of Mesopotamia and The Oxford Bible Atlas.  Consulting Roux's Ancient Iraq, I noticed its 1964 pub. date and wondered if it had ever been revised.  It had been, twice!  I ordered the third, 1992 edition, a Penguin paperback.  Alas, it is missing the color plates of the first edition, so I will keep my 1964 World Publishing hardback.

Light of the World:  The Pope, The Church, and the Signs of the Times:  A Conversation with Peter Seewald, by Pope Benedict XVI
Seewald is a German journalist whose two previous book-length interviews, with then Cardinal Ratzinger, were published as Salt of the Earth (1997) and God and the World (2002).  If you have been keeping up with Pope Benedict's speeches and writings, you will not find any surprises here, but it is a pleasure to see him unwind in an informal setting.

What I'm waiting for is the sequel to Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus of Nazareth: Part Two, Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection, is due out in March from Ignatius Press.

Meditations on the Tarot:  A Journey into Christian Hermeticism, Anonymous, Afterword by Cardinal Hans Urs Von Balthasar
Long-time readers of this web log will know something of my history with the Tarot.  Honestly, it surprises me to have these cards reappear in my life unbidden.  Well, all right, I wrote the post about my car wreck in 1977.  That was what started it.

Still, early Tarot decks had Christian qualities that were altered in English versions influenced by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and those that followed.  The fifth of the twenty-two major trump cards, for example, was renamed in the Waite-Coleman deck, and in decks that followed, from "The Pope" to "The Heirophant."

Meditations on the Tarot is translated from the original French, and derives from the French school of occultism, as did the first book I ever read about the Tarot as a teenager, The Tarot - A Contemporary Course on the Quintessence of Hermetic Occultism, by Mouni Sadhu, (Mieczyslaw Demetriusz Sudowski).  I was interested to learn that Sudowski asked Thomas Merton to write a forward to his 1965 work, Theurgy, (Merton declined), and remained a faithful Catholic until his death in 1971.

Meditations on the Tarot is notable for its approving blurbs by several authorities on contemplative prayer, Fathers Bede Griffiths, Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating, and by a cardinal of the Church, the theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar.  Thomas Keating says, "This book, in my view, is the greatest contribution to date toward the rediscovery and renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition of the Fathers of the Church and the High Middle Ages."

So I will give it a chance.  What I know is that no private pursuit of hidden knowledge can take the place of a personal relationship with God.  He wants to know us and to be known by us.  We must not hold Him at arm's length with the idea that He is hidden behind a veil.  That veil was rent by the power of the Cross.


Memories of Aviation in 1940's Bridgeport Ct.

My wife's uncle, Ray Hansen, has pursued a lifelong interest in flying and aircraft.  He is an experienced pilot, and he builds and flies scale models as well.  Ray was moved by my album of postcards of early flight to put down his memories of working in a Corsair fighter factory as a young man.

During the Second World War, in the early 1940's, the Chance Vought Corsair was manufactured in a relatively small factory in Stratford, Connecticut, across the road from Bridgeport Airport.  The people in the Bridgeport area took pride in knowing that family members or friends were helping to produce such a beautiful plane.  So, when it was suggested that the people in the area could chip in to buy one of the planes for the Navy, the people gladly reached down in their pockets to donate toward the plane. 

I have attached a picture of a certificate, similar to those that were given to people in the Bridgeport area who contributed to the purchase of a Corsair.  The plane used to cost $100,000.  I can recall two drives and I can recall looking at and feeling the certificate the family got.

During the summer of 1944, during the summer vacation from high school, I got a job in a branch of the engineering department at the plant.  The engineering building was a separate building from the production building.  I would go to work early and spend the time before work and on my lunch break out where I could get a good look at the planes as they came off the assembly line. 

The next year I was drafted and spent two years in the Army.  But as soon as I came home, even before I was officially out of the Army, I was back at Chance Vought riveting the aft sections of the F4U-4 version of the plane.  Along with many other people, I can honestly say I loved that plane.

The other picture is that of Igor Sikorsky flying an early model of one of his helicopters.  If you will look at the tail rotor you will see it rotates in a horizontal plane and not the vertical plane he later found out gave him better lateral control.  The caption on the picture says it was taken in Stratford.  I was not there when it was taken, but I am sure that the picture was taken as he test flew this model just off the beaches of Seaside Park in Bridgeport.  This model was not all that stable and he would have had to fly from his small factory at the end of Seaside Park, the whole length of Seaside Park, about one and a half miles, then over the mouth of the river and a little of Long Island Sound at the entrance to Bridgeport Harbor, and then fly over a residential area for two or three miles before he could get to Bridgeport Airport.

Let me give you a little background of what I just wrote.  When I was in high school I played shortstop for the baseball team.  High schools today have everything for the kids.  Central High School was one of three high schools in Bridgeport.  The only one that had a football field was Harding.  None had a baseball field.  So Central had to go all the way to Seaside Park for practices and games.  Seaside Park was long and narrow, about 200 to 300 yards from the water at the widest part.

So when Mr. Sikorsky would test fly his latest version, it was very easy to see him sitting out there in his business suit and fedora hat.  We all thought it was a stupid thing to be working on because over at the airport the Army had fighter planes that could fly over 300 mph.

He was smart about how he went about testing the crafts.  He would fly at a height of less than 100 feet just off the beach.  A truck drove on the road along the beach at the same speed he was flying.  If he had an emergency, he could set the copter down in the shallow water with very little chance of damage to him or the craft.  And the men in the truck would be there in an instant.

One other summer job I had while in graduate school was at Sikorsky overhauling transmissions.


Blogging Reference

9:29  30 min. to opening.  Cash drawer, door count, log in staff PC's, make out-of-service sign for yet another public PC, (22 out of 64 down), test sound on #55.  Newspapers.

V's Democrat-mobile got totaled yesterday, same spot where a van hit R. in our Tercel Wagon back in '90's, Duval & Pensacola.  V. is all right, thank God, but she'll have to buy all new bumper stickers.

Cold this a.m.  Fried eggs & samosa.  Wore new "Rustic Navy" Ralph Lauren Polo Cotton Mesh Full-Zip Hoodie under MC jacket & helmet, warm ears!  It's "finished with utility-inspired trim for heritage comfort."

Heritage comfort, is that comfort like rich folks used to have in the good old days?  Or comfort you'll be able to pass on to your children?  ??  [Edit Jan. 25: been wearing it all day today, as it warmed up a little.  I love this hoodie.  I think the "utility-inspired trim" refers to the shoulder and elbow patches.  It wears like something I've had for years.  I'm down with "heritage comfort".]

10:00  Open.  Both Democats, NYT go out right away.

10:12  Here we go.

Phone:  Tax forms?  We'll put them out on the 1st of Feb.

He's taking electrician exam, needs wiring book.  Take to shelf.

Tax forms?

Help w sound.

Her browser's frozen.

Phone:  It's MD, one of the old reference crew, needs Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral by Thomas G. Long.

Funny, RK gave me a wave 5 min. ago, also of the ancient crew.  They both retired shortly after I came in.

Phone:  Boy's voice.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Place hold, trap, take to hold shelves.

Where to take DVD's that didn't work?  Where is 11:00 story time?

Phone: Rosa in Lloyd.  Where can she buy Episencial skincare products?  Afraid we are in Episencial-less black hole.  Nowhere closer on company's "store locator" than Mobile, Columbus Ga. or Ocala Fl., but in Mobile it's Target that's listed.  Maybe Target here has?

NYT comes back.  Where is Book Review from Sunday ed.?  Fetch from workroom.

Today's paper.


Stapler needs staples.

Scratch paper & golf pencil.

See a number of library netbooks in use.  MC says all 50 at main will see use in the course of a day now.  1st real incentive for non-book-readers to get library cards:  they don't have to wait for desktop PCs.


Tax forms?  Says he doesn't see 2010 1040 form at irs.gov.  I try to check, can't even get in.  IRS must be getting hammered.

PC's for Cathy, Cory, Calvin.

NYT Book Review comes back.

Tax forms?

V having trouble forwarding GroupWise e-mail.  I try, w no problems.  Hmm.

She wants books on pipe cleaner crafts, also called chenille stems or sticks.  Can't find anything.  Call JD in Children's, nothing.

 (Tiara, Harry Potter glasses)

Print out a half dozen ideas from the Internet, do interlibrary loan request for Pipe Cleaners Gone Crazy by Laura Torres and Michael Sherman.

Topo map for Tallahassee?  He remembers old Map Center, which we got rid of years ago.  What did we do with the maps?  Discarded, I admit ashamedly.  Bit my tongue at the time.  Download map from USGS, seat him at staff PC to view.

12.54  Back from lunch.  Amy's tortilla & black bean casserole.  Finishing Peter Temple's Australian crime novel, Truth.

Volunteer L showed up.  Wasn't on schedule, so is special treat.  Yay!

Staple remover.

MC pops up,will I return TV-DVD player to Media when Daughters of Isis in conference room are done w it?

PC for Terry.  Says he has the flu.  Give him Wet Ones® antibacterial wipe.

Books on writing screenplays.  Take to shelf.

Picture books of Georgia for her granddaughter to photocopy.  Not much o/s.  Try children's.

Returns Democrat.

Returns WSJ, unsure about his PC reservation.  Thought he had 15 min. wait, but it's 50 min. wait.

Cancel his reservation, thinks can get one sooner.  Sure?  Ok.

Where are cookbooks?  Just wants call no., no hand-holding.

Where are encyclopedias?


Map to homeless shelter.

How to get library card?  Is under 18 w/o parent.  Give him handout.

J. K. Lasser's Your Income Tax 2011.  Only bought reference copy this year.  Still have 2010 at desk.  Find 2011 on shelf.  Yellow dot it to keep at desk, retire old ed., take his card.

Library is buzzing, people everywhere.  One table is piled with volumes of Florida Statistical Digest and Florida Almanac

2:00  Walk floor, all fine, no shenanigans.  First e-book reader I've seen in use here.  Help woman w microfilm.

J. K. Lasser's man asks me to shush woman on mobile.  Hmm, not that bad, but admonish her gently.  Walking away, hear her say to boyfriend, "They always shush me, but..."  She's chronically shush-worthy, apparently.

Returns paper.

Daughters of Isis having trouble with VCR, C goes to help.

Returns Florida reference books for ID.

Where are GMAT test prep books?  Take to shelf, show online Learning Express test prep.

Phone:  Elderly blind woman trying to contact LM, yet another of the old ref. crew, now at a branch.  Give her branch number.

Tax forms?

PC's for Shani, Kianna.

What's he need for card?

3:00  Walk around before L leaves.  All is well. Tarot woman is laying out spreads.  Ask her which deck she's using.  Celtic Deck, she says.  Looks like the Sacred Circle Tarot to me, after a search online.  I'll have to follow up.  Says the only other one she'd use would be the Thoth deck, (Crowley).   Find map of Florida torn out of Frommer's Guide to Florida.

Why is his card expired?

PC for Jerald.

Old man, a regular, says "Not too crowded today, but all of the good spots are taken."  Can't find an electrical outlet for his laptop.

She's got a list of novels about abused girls and rape victims:
Perfect Liar by Brenda Novak
Through the Cracks by Barbara Fister
When Morning Comes by Jackie Rennick
First Impressions by Jude Deveraux
Left Overs by Laura Weiss
Girls by Frederick Busch
Child of Grace by Lori Copeland
The Fifth Angel by Tim Green.
Take to shelf.

How can she reserve a room?  Wants one tomorrow.  Studying for LSAT, frustrated with noise level.  Send her to super, VB.

Wilson wants PC.  Says he hasn't had one today, (right).  C says don't.  Let C be decider.  PC's are booked 'til closing.


The Daughters of Isis are through in the conference room.  Disconnect & roll equipment on elevator, down to Media workroom.

K, workmate of R's at the Florida House, needs article from the American Journal of Economics and Society.  Check Gale db's.  Gale has blah blah and Sociology?  No, citation says Society.  Hmm.  Get no results for that in OCLC FirstSearch.  Look in our old set of Ulrich's.  No listing for blah blah and Society.  Citation has got to be wrong.  Sure enough, find article in Gale.

4:49  Time to go.


A Fresh Take on the Western Novel

Jennifer Schuessler notes the appearance of Charles Portis's True Grit at No. 11 on this week's NYT trade fiction list, thanks to the new film adaptation currently in theaters.  I wonder how many libraries were blindsided here?  We had only a couple of ancient, grubby copies when the hold requests began to pile up.

I wonder now whether my previous blogpost, Frontierland, was anything more than a reaction to the mind-waves of all those people going to see True Grit.

I've never read it.  I do have a favorite Portis novel though, Masters of Atlantis, which I have mentioned here before.

Scheussler draws some original insights from a column by Allen Barra in The Daily Beast, Who Is the Best Western Novelist?  Barra questions the standing of Cormac McCarthy and briefly discusses a number of other contenders for the title, such as  Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970), Ron Hansen's Desperadoes (1979) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (1983), and Pete Dexter's Deadwood (1986).  The list here would make a good start for a book display that would have appeal beyond fans of the Western genre.

Something about McCarthy has always put me off reading him.  I think Barra has put his finger on it:
McCarthy's prose is so rich and gravid with metaphor that many have been willing to overlook his shortcomings and excesses. In McCarthy's West, no one knocks at the door of a lonely cabin in the wilderness to ask for a drink of water without getting a treatise on the meaning of life and death. Every other prostitute is named "Magdalena." (Has there ever been a creditable female character in any of his books?) Mexican pimps are as portentous as Death in a Bergman film. Characters you might think would be as inarticulate as the cast of Jersey Shore say things like "I came here as a heretic fleeing a prior life" (The Crossing) and "Your world totters on an unspoken labyrinth of questions" (Cities of the Plain).
...It's not difficult to see why Blood Meridian is such a hit with high falutin' critics like Bloom. Consider enigmatic passages like this: "For this will to deceive that is in things luminous may manifest itself likewise in retrospect and so by slight of some fixed part of a journey already accomplished may also post men to fraudulent destinies."

Looks as if somebody's been readin' The Portable Nietzsche by the camp fire.



[Boonesboro stockade (from mov... Digital ID: 93727. New York Public Library

"There's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive."
-President G. W. Bush, Sept. 17, 2001

A couple of weeks ago the New York Times ran an opinion column by Frank Rich, Who Killed the Disneyland Dream?, referring to a now famous home movie of a family's visit to Disneyland in 1956, Robbins Barstow's Disneyland Dream.

I was fascinated to see that the family put on homemade "Davy Crockett" jackets for their visit, with the boys reserving their coonskin caps for wear only in the holy-of-holies that was Frontierland.

R. loves to tell the story of how she made a trip to Disneyland happen with a fervent wish.  Her father was a buyer of mens' & boys' clothing for Maas Brothers department store in St. Petersburg.  Ron had his own story about Davy Crockett, how he took a gamble on a large order of coonskin caps, put them in a display with a recording of The Ballad of Davy Crockett playing non-stop, and they flew out the doors.

My family never went to Disneyland, but we had our own Western attraction near Ocala, Six Gun Territory, which was very much like Frontierland.  My friends and I loved to go there.

Lostparks.com has a virtual tour of the old attraction, and Florida Memory has a tour on film

I've been reading Historical Reenactors and the "PERIOD RUSH":  The Cultural Anthropology of Period Cultures by Karol Chandler-Ezell.  She describes her work among three parallel cultures or paracultures, "tightly knit groups such as historical reenacting which make their hobbies intense, shared 'cultures' that saturate much of their daily life and self-identity while operating parallel to mainstream life."  There are sections on The Society for Creative Anachronism, Renaissance Faires, and Civil War reenactors.

I bought the book because it had the term "period rush" in the title.  I first came across period rush in the book Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War  by Tony Horwitz, (1998).  Horwitz describes the extremes reenactors go to in pursuing this trance-like state in which they feel transported to another time.  Says Chandler-Ezell,
Reenactors are about participant observation and cooperative play.  ...reenactors were really attempting to participant observe or 'method-act' their way into the emic (insider) perspective.   ...The period rush seems to be a type of transcendent experience where the reenactors loosen the stresses or constraints of their real or daily persona and as a result gain feeling of rejuvenation, relaxation, and brotherhood.
(We are in for a lot of CW reenacting in the near future, by the way.  2011 is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War.)

Do theme parks like Frontierland and Six Gun Territory appeal to us because they offer a kind of second-hand period rush, a ritual rehearsal of the primal scenes and deeds of the pioneers?

When I remember the things my father liked to share with us, camping, hunting, gun shows, family history, (he spent many years writing two books about our family), I think that these were his way of rehearsing and passing on to us something important about who he was, and where we came from.  In all the times I went hunting with him, we scarcely ever actually bagged any game.  Nevertheless we must "hunt", live rough, go armed, rise before dawn, far from the cities, as our fathers did in the Alabama hills.

Here are my parents, having fun with some reenacting of their own at the Rough Riders Hotel in the Dakota Badlands in 1992:

Frank Rich, while remarking on the unalloyed whiteness of the Barstows' world, uses Disneyland Dream to draw a comparison between the economic prospects of the Barstow family in 1956 and those of today's middle class, but I don't want to go there.

It's the whiteness, White World, the world I grew up in.  In the South, it's a world of families who have been here about as long as mine has been. Frontierland is a cartoon version of our lived history:  the Revolution, the settlement of the Cherokee lands, the Indian wars, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, the Alamo, the Civil War.  We were there.

It's not my world anymore, really.  We get all sorts at the library and at Blessed Sacrament Church, and that's the way I like it.  But White World is still there.  Or worlds, there are many.  In fact a black man, Rich Benjamin, recently wrote an entertaining book about them, Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America.

Once in a while I stumble into my white world, as a guest at a country club or at Wakulla Lodge for Thanksgiving dinner.  It's an unmistakable feeling when I am among my own kind, to know that I've passed muster without much being said.  If I talk to anyone, they will probably try to work out whether the people they know with my surname are related to me.  Short answer?  Yes.  Do I know them?  Probably not.

On Thursday nights at the library the county's Adult and Community Education has an ongoing class in English for Speakers of Other Languages, (ESOL).  I love to see the students come down the stairs from the classroom on the third floor before the library closes:  people from around the world, learning English together and laughing with new friends.  What will they make of Frontierland?

In their own way, they are pioneers of a kind, far from the lands of their birth, upsetting the natives sometimes, looking for elbow room, strangers in a strange land.  They have come to America.  They want to be free.  Let's make room around the campfire and pass them the peace pipe.


Winged Chariots: The Popular Art of Early Flight

It is an utterly frigid, wet, gray day, that begs no apology for spending an afternoon at the computer.  My cat lasted about two minutes outside, and now sleeps under the lamp by my desk.

I've always been enchanted by the early days of flight.  I read Nordhoff & Hall's Falcons of France and watched the films, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines and The Blue Max on the big screen as a boy.  When I finished graduate school in 2001 I devoted several years to playing the WWI flight sim, Red Baron 3D , and reading all about those wonderful winged chariots and the men who dared to fly them.

Early flight was a popular subject for posters, postcards and cigarette cards.  In-flight photography was in its infancy, and miniature paintings were often used.  Most of these images are from Rosebud's WWI and Early Aviation Image Archive.  They are all, to the best of Rosebud's knowledge, in the public domain.  I've had them on my hard drive for years.  I actually thought Rosebud had vanished.

Early peacetime examples are of a strange menagerie of aircraft, of rallies and competitions.

With the coming of war in 1914, the romance of flight was used in appeals for national service.

Military aviation at the beginning of the Great War was strictly for reconnaissance, the "eyes of the army."  Aircraft had no armament, and seldom encountered their opposite numbers at first.

The Rumpler Taube (Dove) was a graceful-looking, but in fact ungainly bird.  It looks lovely in these postcard paintings.

Many German postcards pictured their pilots high above Paris:

Those solitary flights above the battle, in communion with heaven, would soon end.

Attacks on dirigibles and observation balloons were a popular subject.

I close with some striking examples of Futurist-influenced poster art that brush aside entirely the gentleman hobbyist's notion of flight as a solitary idyll, embracing the dynamism of killing machines, of war as creative destruction, ideas that the early Fascist and Communist intellectuals would share: total war as the midwife of the New Man.


Update on Self, More on E-Readers, Tablets

Now that the holidays are over and the mom-librarians are back at work, I am taking a vacation.  Although FAMU and FSU lurched into the winter term this week, I will mostly avoid dealing with students asking whether the library can supply their textbooks, and consuming reams of paper printing out their assignments and PowerPoint outlines.

Firearms Useless, Says Zombie Expert
I had some reader feedback passed along to me on the question of arming oneself against zombies.  I'm told that KH, who works in the library's Media section, and who has seen many zombie films, believes that arming oneself is ultimately futile, and only delays the inevitable zombie triumph.

Mr. Claudius Stretches Legs, Christmas Over 
After a late breakfast of scrambled eggs, rye toast and pink grapefruit juice, I took Claudius the cat out.  He was so excited when he realized I was going to stay home today, galloping around the house in anticipation.  He darted out the door.  It was quite cold.  Gusts of wind set the bronze bell on the front porch ringing and sent oak leaves sailing across the yard.  Claudius chased leaves and went tearing around the lawn.  But it was so cold that he wanted to go inside after twenty minutes.

I took the four white Christmas globe lights down from the front porch roof and put them back in their box.  I took the fir wreath on its hanger down from the front door.  I removed the bow and ornaments that were wired to it, tossing the wreath in the trash bin.  The phone rang.  R., who's been suffering with a cold all week, was packing it in at work, would be home early.

Now Claudius was recovered and ready for more, so we went out for another twenty minutes.  Back inside, I picked up the new issue of Linux Journal, to which my friend Frogola kindly bought me a gift subscription.  The February issue is a "desktop" issue.

I was ready for some lunch.  I was about to make some instant Thai rice noodle soup when R. rolled up, bearing the remains of a flatbread pizza she'd ordered at Steel City, so I ate that instead.

Linux Dudes On Tablets, E-Readers
I paged through Linux Journal.  I haven't used Linux in ten years, but I recognized the names of familiar graphical desktop shells as they were trotted out in their latest versions, Gnome, KDE, Enlightenment, FTCE, AfterStep.  Most of the articles were way over my head, as was Linux itself, really, when I tried it, knowing almost nothing about systems or networks or programming.

Toward the back I found an amusing piece, Tablets:  Who Wants One?, in which two guys "debate" this month for a regular column, Point/Counterpoint, about the utility of tablet PC's, including the iPad.  You can't read or link to new articles in Linux Journal until they are archived, but I'll give you a taste:
BILL: ...A laptop or Netbook is the tool of choice for content creation, but for content consumption, I think a tablet might be the way to go. I know more often than not I'll reach for my iPhone if I need to check mail real quick. It's just faster and more convenient.
KYLE: See, that's just the point, I think the tablet has long been a solution in search of a problem. Now it has to compete with a smartphone for portable, underpowered computing, a Netbook for inexpensive portable computing, and a laptop or desktop for full-featured computing. Having a large fruit-named company create one (and new companies throw cell-phone software on their tablets) doesn't change that. I had a hybrid laptop that could rotate into tablet mode, and I think used it maybe a handful of times, and even then, it was just as a novelty e-book reader.
BILL: I remember, but that laptop wasn't exactly a powerhouse either. And if I recall, it was running stock Ubuntu, which is not a portable-optimized OS like Android or iOS. I think your definition of computing is different from that of a lot of folks, Kyle. As a system administrator and writer, your use case depends on having multiple windows, a full-size keyboard, and the storage and horsepower of a conventional laptop. However, as iPad sales prove, there's a huge segment of the population who just wants to surf using tablets and play Angry Birds.
KYLE: Unless you are wearing some interesting jeans, a tablet isn't going to be any more portable than any other similarly underpowered Netbook, but you'll pay a premium for the fingerprint-smeared touch screen and the lack of a keyboard. I think even surfing suffers on a tablet. However hyperlinked the Web might be, these days, people keep talking about everyone "contributing to the conversation" and other Web 2.0 terms. It's hard to do that just by touching and dragging on a screen.
Kyle evidently shares my low opinion of touch screens.  Bill is not entirely convincing as a potential iPad owner.  I'll insert the link when I can.  Looking around at Linux Journal online, however, I found some interesting comments to a poll of how many Linux users own an e-reader.  Given the knowledge about computers these people have, I enjoyed their remarks about various e-readers.  What separates the better e-readers from their tablet cousins is the electronic ink display, which several people have told me proved to be a surprisingly satisfactory experience compared to the usual backlit screen on a PC or mobile phone.

And yet I remain unpersuaded.  A paper book is about the most "open" standard in the world.  It needs no expensive and inevitably obsolescent device to use it.  I can get almost any paper book I want at zero cost through interlibrary loan if the library does not own it.


Scott Inauguration Parade Marchers Gather, Eat Lunch.

I took these photos on my lunch hour outside the library.  Click on the image to view the album.

Gubernatorial Inauguration Parade Bands


E-Readers and the Great Eyeball War

The first e-reader big push, in the '09' holiday season, had little discernible impact at the library, probably because the library had little to offer in the way of e-books.  Demand for digital media until then had been focused on audio books.  Of our two digital media vendors, NetLibrary and OverDrive, the library offered NetLibrary's e-books only in an online version, not the pricier downloadable Adobe PDF version that could be used with an e-reader, and OverDrive was then almost completely focused on audio books.

A year ago, OverDrive was preoccupied with addressing the iPod market-share for audio books, following Amazon's lead by offering them as MP3's in addition to the Windows WMA format.  Since then, OCLC has sold NetLibrary to EBSCO, where it seems to be dying on the vine, (regrettably, because NetLibrary has an excellent collection), whereas OverDrive has been exceptionally aggressive in adapting to new digital media trends, partnering with Adobe to offer e-Pub and PDF e-books, and adding the entire public domain Project Gutenberg collection.

Last week patrons began to e-mail, call, and walk in to get help with the e-readers that they'd gotten for Christmas.  My impression was that they mostly had Barnes & Noble Nook e-readers, though I was told someone had an Amazon Kindle.  No one had a Sony Reader.  Our information was that OverDrive's e-books would work on Nooks and Sony Readers, but not Amazon Kindles.  Then we heard that OverDrive's Gutenberg e-books would work on the Kindle.

I found an interesting article, Ten Predictions For The E-Reader/E-Book Market In 2010, that makes the point,
Most consumers don’t read enough to justify buying a single-function reading device, and according to Forrester’s data, more consumers already read e-books on mobile phones and PCs than on e-readers.
From what I have observed in the library, people who come in to use the Wi-Fi have a laptop and a cell phone.  People who come in to use our public access PC's usually have a cell phone.  Our crowd does not have expensive devices like iPhones or Blackberries.

So there are all these portable devices:  iPods, iPads, iPhones, Blackberries and other smartphones, MP3 players, netbooks, e-readers.  And they all want to be people's primary devices, offering "apps" for things they weren't initially designed for.

Look at OverDrive's current FAQ for an idea of how complicated it's become for librarians when people ask for help with digital media.  Libraries are not, and will never be "cutting edge".  They cannot afford to be.  Capital proposes, the consumer disposes, and libraries must wait and see.


In Case of Zombies

The lighter side of SHTF HD, (shit hits the fan home defense), a fun thread at Shotgun World: 

I don't know much about zombies, but since they are supposed to be already "dead", I'd guess that large caliber weapons, more likely to immobilize them, would be the way to go.  So out of what I have on hand:

1.  12 gauge 9-shot Mossberg Persuader pump riot shotgun.
2.  Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldog revolver.
3.  8 mm. vz. 24 Czech Mauser rifle.