« January 2004 | Main | March 2004 »

February 26, 2004

Reviving Marion

The Librarian in Black is ready to take names and kick butt over at the NY Times style section for suggesting that the antithesis of a siren is a librarian. And God bless her for it. But she briefly touches upon poor Miss Marion Paroo.

I think it's rather funny, the "Marion" stereotype ... it's one of my favourite musicals. Thing is, Marion is dressed no differently from any other female character in the movie, given her age and marital status (she's not married and well-off, so she doesn't get a richly feathered hat). In fact:

1) Shirley Jones was pregnant at the time (which is why she doesn't do any of the really strenuous dancing in the movie -- no leaping off of tables or hanging off of balconies) and towards the end of filming came close to literally having to be sewn into her costumes. And she's not exactly wearing a potato sack or an empire-waist dress that hides her curves.

2) The reason why the whole town is against Marion and why Harold Hill throws all of his charm at her is because they all believe that she is a fallen woman [the paramour of the late Mr. Madison, town benefactor] who is trying to corrupt their innocent children with works from Rabeleis and Balzac. We don't know if Marion has a library degree, but she is obviously educated, and there seems to be the implicit notion by the townspeople that an educated woman is a tempted woman (we don't see anyone who identifies as a school teacher in the town, so we see no other examples of educated women).

Yes, she looks very prim, but in pre-WWI Iowa, I daresay most every woman (except for a couple of particular subsets) would look just as prim. I think Marion is the bee's knees. And you know she kept "Prof." Hill on his toes ... the woman has access to the works of Sir Richard Burton, after all.

Strategic value of XML

I've been remiss. I went to hear a talk given by Roy Tennant over a month ago, wrote copious notes ... and promptly forgot all about it.

Following is a not-at-all comprehensive summation, with a link to the slide presentation he used in tandem with his talk. This probably isn't new to many, but I haven't studied XML yet, so I hope to go back to this if and when I get a better sense of how XML can and is used.

SLA San Andreas Chapter Meeting
January 21, 2004 at Exponent
Guest Speaker: Roy Tennant, California Digital Library

XML: The Strategic Opportunity

XML holds the same potential now that the Internet had 15 years ago
Focus of the talk: the good, useful things that libraries are doing (or should be doing) to solve problems (caveat: examples drawn from academic environments, not special libraries)

The 5-cent tour of XML:
* XML is a way to make up our tags in an online metadata environment that have innate hierarchy -- the tags must be well-formed (opening and closing tags that nest, etc.)
* Valid XML is made up of specified tags with specified rules that match a schema (the set of rules for validation
* XML is stricter than HTML -- bad HTML can still display content in a web browser (the browser will ignore the bad code), while bad XML will prevent any display of content.
* XSLT: stylesheets for XML

XML Challenges

  • Only librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find

  • Our users want more information about books

  • Our users want services tailored to their needs and desires

  • We must do more with less

  • Our bibliographic infrastructure is increasingly unable to get the job done

  • We must deal with a variety of metadata systems now

Users want more information about books -- via web services
SOAP & REST (protocols/standards for web services)
SOAP -- Simple Object Access Protocol: a lightweight way to exchange encoded information between applications
REST -- REpresentational State Transfer: a URL-based (HTTP Get) way of sending a SOAP request and receiving an XML-encoded response
Amazon and Google can be searched via web services

We must do more with less
Automated content draws people to new content
RSS feeds - RSS (Rich Site Summary/Really Simple Syndication): useful for current awareness

The current bibliographic infrastructure is not working
Foundation: MARC syntax, MARC elements and AACR2 application rules -- non-intuitive, not used outside of the library world
The fundamental question: Does it get the job done?
The answer: The job has changed --
* Former sole function -- inventory control; now -- resource discovery
* Multiple, diverse metadata streams
* Online delivery
* Multiple file formats
Major mission creep
Non-ILS metadata systems are spawning everywhere: electronic research databases, archival systems, insitutional repositories

Can we do better? YES
Technological advances, cheap storage and different needs are all on our side

A new bibliographic infrastructure is needed:

  • Multiple bibliographic schemata: it won't all fit into MARC

  • A transfer schema: an XML schema for ingesting, storing and transfering bibliographic data, such as METS

  • Application rules

  • A review of best practices

  • Concentrating on enrichment services

  • Tools

  • Crosswalks

Is changing worth it?
We can encompass more information and do things for more people, but we need to recreate our bibliographic foundations to deal with different systems (ex.: D-Space, e-Scholarship, OAIster)

February 24, 2004

Stanford and the Serials Crisis

(Caveat lector: The following is verbatim from a memo distributed by Michael Keller, University Librarian for Stanford University Libraries [which covers all of the undergraduate libraries ... the libraries of the law, medical and business schools aren't part of SUL]. This is a motion that was passed by the Academic Senate's Committee on Libraries on January 19, 2004.)


Although the costs for production and distribution of academic journals are falling due to advances in technology, the prices of many (especially for-profit) journals have been rising much faster than the rate of inflation. This pricing trend puts severe pressure on Stanford�s constrained library budgets.

Stanford has a practical and principled interest in the broadest dissemination possible of scholarly works, and the escalating cost of journals has the effect of limiting the dissemination of scholarship. It is ironic that many Stanford scholars � like scholars throughout higher education � volunteer their articles and labor in the production, review and editing of journal content, only to have the final product sold back to Stanford, sometimes at exorbitant prices.

Many for-profit journal publishers use the technique of �bundling� major journal titles with minor ones and further require multi-year contracts to lock-in revenue. These pricing strategies create more pressure on library budgets, thereby hindering the dissemination of scholarship.

Low-cost academic publishing alternatives, both traditional and innovative, do exist, many of which are non-profit. These alternatives serve the public good by enhancing wide distribution of knowledge, while simultaneously reducing the strain on library budgets.

For all these reasons, the Senate endorses the following guidelines as recommended by C-Lib to all Stanford libraries, faculty and departments.

1. Faculty and libraries are encouraged to support affordable scholarly journals, such as by volunteering articles and labor in the production, review and editing of journal content.

2. Libraries are encouraged to refuse �big deal� or bundled subscription plans that limit the librarian�s traditional responsibility to make collection development decisions on a title-by-title basis in the best interest of the academic community.

3. Libraries are encouraged to scrutinize the pricing of journals and to drop those where pricing decisions have made them disproportionately expensive compared to their educational and research value. Special attention should be paid to for-profit journals in general and to those published by Elsevier in particular.

4. Faculty, especially senior faculty, are strongly encouraged in the future not to contribute articles or editorial or review efforts to publishers and journals that engage in exploitive or exorbitant pricing, and instead look to other and more reasonably-priced vehicles for disseminating their research results.

February 23, 2004

Visiting luminary ...

SLIS @ SJSU is holding its "Third Annual ISI Samuel Lazerow Memorial Lecture at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17, 2004, in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Room 225-257."

"Our speaker will be John Berry III, editor-in-chief of Library Journal.� Mr. Berry�s topic will be 'Can Librarians Fix Democracy?'� This lecture is hosted by SLIS and sponsored by Thomson ISI." (quoted from the library director's email announcement)

This should be cool. And so far as I know, this is open to the public. However, one thing nags me. Lots of library schools have Lazerow lectures (thank you, Thomson ISI). And looking at the various topics and speakers, and knowing what kind of information ISI specializes in ... I would venture to say that the Lazerow lecture is meant to issues of science and technology as they affect libraries and information centers to libsci students. Which fits with the last two lecturers at SJSU: Rick Luce, the library director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (that was an awesome talk) and a retired vice president of General Motors (who didn't actually know that much about the library but talked a lot about hydrogen fuel cells).

It's not that I don't care about that Mr. Berry has to say about libraries and democracy -- I do very much. But gosh, he must talk about that just about everywhere, yes? What can I ask him that would be ... different? Any topics I should bring to the table? How can the conversational envelope be pushed? Or, if you were there, what would YOU want to ask him? I'll give attributions ...

February 19, 2004


Sci-fi author, EFF evangelist and copyright activist Cory Doctorow recently made a presentation about e-books at the2004 O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference, titled "Ebooks: Neither e nor books".

Note: it's a text file, and does not include any of the corresponding slides due to copyright issues. Also, it's fairly long, so prepare to do a lot of scrolling if you read it online. Cory dedicates it to the public domain, so feel free to propagate. His opinions are not necessarily the same or even similar to mine -- I don't give e-books much thought, so I don't have much of an opinion, period.

If e-books are your thang or your bane, enjoy ...

February 18, 2004

Playing with felt and wires

It's a fairly busy news day, but one story that caught my notice was the news that Disney has bought the rights to the Muppets. This deal covers the Muppets, not the Sesame Street characters, and it was a desired outcome by both parties -- Jim Henson was in negotiations with Disney to sell the Muppets but the deal was derailed by his sudden death in 1990.

It's a fitting development in a lot of ways, and I hope to see Disney take care of the Muppets (yes, I'm of the generation that watched first-run episodes of The Muppet Show, and long after many of us gave up on Sesame Street as being 'for babies'). They can start by pulling the licensing for those Muppets/Denny's commercials -- having Miss Piggy shill "Moon over my Hammy" porkcentric breakfasts is sadistic.

I admit, however, that I find the deal disquieting. Disney's copyright enforcement on its characters is well documented -- so much so, one could probably write a book on that single subject, if one hasn't been written already. Henson has taken a much more laidback position in 'protecting its product'. There has been a much freer hand to use Muppets for the purpose of satire and parody, apparently without complaint by Henson (or in the case of Sesame Street characters, the Children's Workshop).

Mind you, the results haven't always been pretty. Over the past couple of days, I have encountered Photoshopped images of Miss Piggy that mimics Janet Jackson's overexposure at the Super Bowl -- that I didn't need to see. People have been arguing whether Bert and Ernie are a gay couple for over 15 years. Long before the Lord of the Rings trilogy, director Peter Jackson was infamous for his grotesque, adult parody of the Muppet show, Meet the Feebles (yet again, something I personally did not need to see).

Then there's the Bert is Evil meme. And currently, there's a terror alert system based on Sesame Street characters (despite the supposed evilness of Bert, he only represents an "Elevated" level of risk of terrorist attack).

Now ... we'll still have Bert to pick on and kick around and use as a conduit to our dark fantasies about childhood innocence. But Miss Piggy and Kermit and the rest will probably go behind the Intellectual Property firewall. Future attempts to satirize culture using Muppet images may be tracked and the creators subject to cease-and-desist letters from Disney's attorneys. Nursery school walls may need repainting. And Disney has a proven, lucrative set of products whose copyright terms give the company added incentive in convincing Congress to add more extensions a la the Bono/CTEA Act.

It was fun while it lasted.

February 17, 2004

Intellectual Property and the Developing World

Just an FYI:

In the latest issue of ACP-EU's The Courier, there is a section on Intellectual Property and how current developments affect least developed countries (LDCs).

This article attempts to cover a lot of ground in just 2 pages, but it raises interesting issues and is very positive and pro-active in offering solutions to the huge information gap between industrialized and developing countries.

From the introduction:

Most users in developing countries will not be able to pay for or subscribe to commercial licenses. But there is an enormous amount of intellectual property that belongs to governments and non-profit institutions. Much of this is as good as its commercial counterparts in fulfilling basic and even advanced information needs in LDCs, but it needs to be released and distributed in a more efficient and general way.

Sex ed and the library

Marylaine Block lays it on the line about the information needs of teenagers and CIPA.


February 16, 2004

Small victories

While wandering around the Internet Archive yesterday, I discovered that my library school's website had a robot exclusion file up -- none of its pages were in the Archive. I e-mailed the webmaster to ask if there was a specific policy/decision behind this. She replied that as far as she knew, there was no policy behind it, and she'd be changing the file so that the site would be archived by IA from now on.

Yay! Although I believe it'll take another 6 months to get the school's content accessible via the Wayback Machine. Still, it's a start ...

February 15, 2004

Two associations - Part II

The entry was initially meant to be the conclusion of the previous one, but I realized that there was a lot of information from Janice LaChance's presentation that I wanted to include.

If you don't know a lot (or anything) about SLA, I can't tell you much, except for the following:

  • Founded in 1909 by John Cotton Dana and a bunch of others
  • Established to represent libraries not covered under the 'school/public/academic rubric
  • Currently has approximately 12,000 members (memberships have been dropping over the past few years)
  • SLA members include not only librarians working for corporations, but also: government librarians (state and federal), independent consultants, archivists, taxonomists, online database vendors, museum specialists, subject-specific academic librarians, technologists, market researchers ... etc.
  • After its Executive Director of 22 years retired in 2001, it hired a new ED who resigned after 7 months on the job
  • The Association successfully passed a by-laws change in 2002
  • The Association tried to pass a name change in 2003 to become Information Professionals International; it failed ratification in a vote at the 2003 conference.

Obviously, this is an Association in a lot of flux.

I joined SLA at approximately the same time as I did ALA. However, SLA has a local chapter that's does considerable outreach to SLIS students in the Bay Area. Also, my dream library job (news librarian) falls squarely under SLA's auspices. So, I figure that I was an SLAer who kept an ALA membership because I supported ALA's policies and mission. But ALA didn't have a lot to offer me professionally, so beyond basic curiosity of what an ALA conference is like, I didn't figure on making ALA activity a major part of my professional emphasis.

Well, it's not that simple. SLA culture not only embraces 'marketing' (which I don't mind in terms of corporate libraries: render unto Caeser what is Caeser's, or, when in Rome ...) of library services and resources, but encourages librarians to take an "entrepreneurial mindset". I've gone over this before, but I'm not comfortable with marketing as a professional skill.

And as I wrote just prior to go to ALA MidWinter:

 I love SLA and I plan to be a member as long as I can afford it. I've learned so much by being involved with the local chapter, attending the conferences and networking with the people in my chapter and my division. And news librarians can party like you wouldn't believe.

But I don't think I really belong in SLA. I break out in a rash whenever someone brings up the word 'marketing', SLA's focus on best practices isn't designed to inculcate new members of the profession who may not have a set of standard practices yet and while the national will take some stands on issues that affect all sorts of libraries (such as filing amicus briefs along with other associations on challenges to certain legislation), the association doesn't have a philosophical concept of intellectual freedom that forms a core value for the membership.

SLA doesn't have my heart. At least, not yet.


Well, after a month, I can safely say that ALA has my heart. NMRT and LITA were very welcoming, I met very friendly and interesting people, and there was a fair bit of intriguing programming going on. But what really took hold of my imagination was the information policy initiatives. Looking at the discussion and ongoing work of the Information Commons subcomittee, and hearing that SRRT and IFRT would be forming info policy task forces ... it blows my mind.

SLA, in terms of public policy, is in statis right now. There's some really good policy discussion within SLA (I think that Laura Gasaway's discussions of copyright in Information Outlook are so clear, straightforward, comprehensible and relevant), but the public policy infrastructure is still at the foundation level. There's no place for an interested (if neophyte) party to plug in.

So, I'm facing the situation that there is lots that SLA can do for me (in terms of networking and professional development) but there's not a lot I can do for the Association. Conversely, there's a lot that I want to bring to the table for ALA (focusing on policy), but ALA don't really fit my current professional goals.

It's easy to be simply a member of both organizations. How to make meaningful contributions to both organizations seems to be a harder question. As Janice said, ALA and SLA have different missions, resources and services. Both associations provide a lot of value, even if I don't necessarily support every initiative or stance they (or their units) take. I don't want to let one go in order to be successfully engaged in the other. I hope I don't have to ... and I think that if I plan it right and get all of my ducks in a row, then I won't have to choose between them.

Now, how to get my ducks in a row (and exactly what order) ... that's my present conundrum.

Two associations - Part I

Earlier this month, SLA's Executive Director Janice LaChance was in the Bay Area, and attended the joint meeting of the San Andreas and SF Bay chapter. Her keynote was conducted as a interview with the Association President, Cindy Hill. She talked about joining SLA (she's been ED for approximately half a year now), the Association's strengths, potentials and obstacles and what she sees as the long-term goals SLA can and should embrace.

Some of her thoughts (written in third person; questions from Cindy and the audience, as well as the answers, are paraphrased):

Why did you choose to come to work for SLA?

She was a consultant at the time, and was somewhat frustrated that her work focused on only one aspect of the organizations that were her clients. When she heard the position was open, she looked into what special libraries did, and saw a lot of potential and talent with the Association.

SLA just came out of it's Winter Leadership Summit with a new vision and mission statement. How do you view it?

The new vision and mission statement gives a very straightforward, clear visionary statement. It eliminates/puts to bed the question of whether SLA is indeed a global organization. It focuses on three areas:

1) Networking
2) Advocacy -- a champion of the profession
3) Professional development

You've been traveling a lot for the past 6 months, meeting with various SLA chapters as well as attending to Association business. What surprises or observations have you discovered to SLA?

The strength of SLA is in its diversity
SLA members are nice and like to have fun, [and jokingly] there's a lot of wine drinking at SLA gatherings.

What do the Association's partners bring to SLA?

They add to the diversity of the Association; their presence and involvement staves off an us-versus-them mentality; there's a lot of successful integration in how to make everyone profit from partner's activities/products.

What best practices from your experience in the federal government can be applied to SLA?

Also, encouraging new perspectives -- help people learn and grow by providing the right resources and tools

What positions have you filled since joining SLA?

Staffers to handle the following:
Professional development
Fund development
Communications and marketing

What's expected of leaders at the unit level and how should units respond?

Recruiting and mentoring are crucial at the unit level; we need to get people involved in SLA.

What turns you on?


What turns you off?


"One of your stated priorities upon starting at SLA was to increase the focus on public policy by the Association. Where are you with that and what can people at the unit level do in this regard?"

SLA now has an in-house specialist/staffer who focuses almost exclusively on public policy. Also, the Association has formed coalitions with other major library associations (particularly: ALA, AALL, MLA, ARL) to file joint amicus briefs in legal cases that affect libraries and librarians. We need to get people throughout the organization who are interested in public policy to come forward and become active on that front>

What can be done to enhance the value of librarians within corporations?

SLA has a definite role in helping librarians and in helping corporations realize the value of their librarians ...

How does SLA retain members?

Through its two strengths: networking and professional development.

How does SLA compare with ALA?

There are important differences between ALA and SLA. SLA provides different services and resouces to its membership than does ALA. ALA has put a lot of resources towards public policy, and SLA partners with them on a case-by-case basis. However, there are different instutitional priorities, as well as somewhat different missions.

What should be SLA's stances on the USA PATRIOT Act?

SLA needs to stay on top of the issue. The Act affects special libraries just as much as it affects other libraries; SLA should not cede the issue to other associations.


I'm left out a lot, but this is the gist of what I wrote down. Part II will be my personal perspective on the Association ...

February 10, 2004

Australia Joins the Mickey Mouse Club

Australia and the United States signed a Free Trade Agreement agreement on February 9 (Feb. 8, in this hemisphere). A lot of the press (here and abroad) is focused on opposition within Australia's agricultural sector (particularly sugar and dairy farmers) and the proposed benefits to its manufacturing sector.

However, warning bells have sounded regarding changes in copyright/IP laws and their effects on libraries. Like the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Australia's copyright terms have been raised an additional 20 years. It's set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2005.

From The Age's article:

"The outcome is bad for libraries," said Colette Ormonde, copyright adviser for the Australian Library and Information Association. "It is bad for students. It is bad for researchers. It is bad for all information users."

The terms of the agreement seek to harmonize IP protections in regards to material, including digital formats ... which suggests that DMCA-type legislation is next on the agenda, if not already so.

Thanks for the 411 from /. and the chattylibrarians list-serv.

Phantom citations

(Caveat lector: Feel free to follow Karen's advice and go read the CIPA analysis on First Monday. I can't think about the USA PATRIOT Act and CIPA at the same time without wanting to take to a fainting couch, so I'll be printing out a copy to read in about 6 weeks. I'll catch up with that much later.)

Time to starting moving away from the personal (though intriguing) back to the professional emphasis. This is sort of a halfway step in between.

I wrote in an earlier post that I had just received a galley for an article that required a lot of edits. Nearly 2 years ago, I wrote a paper about the Internet Archive for one of my library classes. In the course of writing, I learned that my co-workers knew nothing of the Archive, my fellow students hadn't heard anything about it, and there wasn't much press about it in the library literature. I saw a niche to be filled, and after a couple of misadventures (one editor never got back to me after receiving the paper, another misfiled the submission and didn't get my follow-up messages). But it was finally accepted last summer and put on the back-burner for a future issue.

The linkrot was incredible. The Archive completely reorganized its website and went to a PHP system -- all those links had to be redone. And in the last go-round ... turns out that a couple of my sources had gone from the Open Web to the Deep Web, and one disappeared completely without a trace. The former I really should have recognized as a potential problem (especially given how often I've heard Gary Price on the subject). And I don't know how the citation styles (Chicago, in this case) typically deal with dead/closed/behind subscription walls ... so I caved. I managed to find the article on microfiche and changed the citation to a print one.

The completely disappearing source ... that was a different story. It was a PDF of a state government document that had been catalogued by the State Library as being available only through the Archive. But it's gone from the Archive's servers, and there's a robot exclusion file that looks like it was added around the same time that we had an administration change in Sacramento (mind you, I don't know which administration did it). The Archive has a policy of removing any material at the request of the original site's owner, which keeps them out of legal trouble.

Quite frustrating for me. And it also makes me wonder about scholarship. If I understand the point of citation, it's not only for validation (i.e. I'm not making this stuff up), it's also for accessibility. Just like scientific results have the requirement of reproducible results in order to be consider valid, scholarship requires that we are able to go beyond the piece in hand to read and evaluate what influenced it, whether the evidence offered is in proper context, etc.

Of course, there are many organizations that are working very hard to keep potentially ephemeral resources available to generations of scholars. But there's going to be a lot of material that may be of interest and relevance to you and your research, but may not be accessible to your audience by the time they read your research.

This begs, to me, two sets of questions:

1) Are we going to find a way to cite dead or inaccessible sources? Is the situation with lost electronic resources analogous to rare, out-of-print or non-published manuscripts and other works? Does the scholar say to his audience, "I saw this, I evaluated/critiqued it correctly, this citation was correct at the time it was generated, you have to trust me on this?"

2) Do we encourage all but the most advanced scholars/researchers to stay within the confines of library resources (which is not a guaranteed failsafe in itself)? Do we warn researchers off the Open Web, unless the material they find fall within certain parameters we find to indicate medium- or long-term stability? Do we as researchers play it safe in order to retain our credibility?

February 08, 2004

Fear and metaphors

This is something I really shouldn't post here ... it doesn't belong because it's about writing, not libraries. But I'm posting it here for two reasons:

1) I'd like the input of people who write. Not just "writers" but also those who simply write ... for work, for school, for play, for addiction's sake.

2) I have written quite a bit in pursuit of my MLS, and I think I'd like to continue once the degree is in hand.

So, I'd like to become a better writer. In truth, I'd like to become a good writer. I don't feel like one yet, although I do have my moments at times. However, I do lack consistency. I want to be a reliably good writer. I have a couple of style manuals, as well as Walt's First Have Something To Say and Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing; also, I really should re-read The Elements of Style. I need to work on technique, tone, style and organization. But before I can work on those, there's a more primal obstacle I must overcome.

I am a fearful writer. Fearful of exactly what, I don't know. The closest I can come to articulating it is, 'fearful of not giving an issue its due, of not expressing something as richly as it deserves'.

I don't write easily, naturally. I stumble over words and agonize over sentences. I'll start a writing project in plenty of time to finish, revise and polish, but I always end up finishing at the last hour, sleep-deprived and emotionally drained. For years, I told myself that I was simply a night writer -- I just couldn't write in the daytime. But that's not true ... what really happens is that when the deadline is looming and I've been up way too late for the past few nights, that part of me that has been saying, 'be careful what you write/how you phrase that' gives up and goes home. And I'm able to pour out what I think needs to be written without thinking, "That's not right. That's so wrong. Why am I doing this?"

Well, if writing is going to indeed be part of my professional life, I need to end this fear. Short of very expensive therapy, I don't know how.

Also, I think I have the wrong metaphor for writing. I don't know how other people tackle ideas, but often that feels exactly like what I do. Tackle them. Hunt them down, pin them, eviscerate them, put them on display like perserved insects. Yeah, it's odd, but then again, I didn't call this blog Confessions of a Mad Librarian for nothing.

Nonetheless, it doesn't seem like a healthy, stable model that will work in the long term. I feel as though I need a fresh, tough-minded perspective to get to the point to where I can seriously work on my writing and improve. Any suggestions on how I can get there from here (besides, of course, very expensive therapy)?

February 03, 2004

There's "Ironic" ... and then there's "Ironic"

From the Alanis Morisonette dictionary of English abstractions:

Ironic --

Exhibit A:

Getting a galley of an article you've worked to get published for 2 years exactly one week from the date your thesis draft is due -- and the galley requires 72-hour turnaround time on the edits. (This will be discussed in a later post ...)

Exhibit B (which is closer to M-W's definition and my favourite):

In a recent edition of Government Information Quarterly (v. 19 no.3), Lotte Feinberg discusses the origins of Freedom of Information Act (first passed by the Johnson Administration). She pointed out that among the various players in the drama was a young presidential aide who was dead set against FOIA and likewise, a young Republican congressman from Illinois who was a very vocal proponent. In fact, the rep. said this in regards to FOIA:
"I believe strongly that the public's business must be conducted in public if our system of government is to prevail."

The identity of the presidential aide? Bill Moyers. And the pro-access congressman? Donald Rumsfeld.

There are lessons to be drawn from this. Not to mention rueful amusement (at least on my part). Bill "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" Moyers ...

Okay, all you who were around and paying attention during the Johnson Administration may not be so surprised.

February 01, 2004

Burn, baby, burn ...

I have yet to participate in the "One City, One Book" phenomenon: I even tend to read my Harry Potter 4-18 months after the first printing. However, I will have to make my debut with this:

Silicon Valley Reads Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury's classic has already had the city-wide treatment in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles (even though he technically lives in Culver City and was born in Illinois, we claim him as a native son that done us proud). I'm not sure I'll even have time to read the book again before the discussion at New King on Feb. 11th, but I'll try to show up anyway. If you're in the area and can make it, maybe you should consider it, too. Or one of the other discussions taking place at various branches around San Jose.