Posts

Where I might live

Where I might liveI could live in the air,
the sixteenth floor or higher,
an aerie over prairie,
enough to feel the volumeof grass bending to sky,
misty horizons grown sharp,
edge anchored to the eye.
Height can be gorgeous glory.Or I could live so low,
the sun always marginal,
aslant along sidewalks,
spilling through the half windowsgridded by iron bars,
skirting the wee dank shadows
of underground, of hope
(all hope so soft and secret).I could live. I could live
from moment to moment and
whether the eye of bird
or mole could sense sky's changing.I could unfold myself
and become the atmosphere,
all of it, all the light
and dark, all of the turning.

FreeGeek Chicago

FreeGeek, 3411 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, is an oddity. Tucked into an alley, down a flight of stairs, into a basement, it's been around for over a decade, operates as a not for-profit, and offers some remarkably good deals.
To wit: I found a Toshiba netbook (NB 505), running on Mint xfce, for $40. Nice little screen, keyboard, wifi, 2 gigs memory, 160 gigs storage, three USB ports. Pretty small, and light enough to throw into a backpack for the coffeeshop.
At first, I thought this was great. Fun to play with, and I can use it when I'm offline. I almost bought it on the spot.
I really like to write in emacs org-mode. I can't do that on my Chromebook. My Windows laptop now has a broken arrow key.
But do I really need org-mode when I have Dynalist and Docs?
The Toshiba is rather better than my old Acer netbook, which I got a lot of use from.
Computers, Linux, used to be a hobby. I don't really do much of that anymore. $40 is pretty cheap for hours of tinkering, an…

Yes, there was a Holocaust

Some months ago, I was targeted by some Nazi trolls. Their pitch to me was that (a) Amazon's dropping of some pro-Nazi titles constituted censorship and ALA should do something about it, and (b) if I would just read some key Holocaust denial works (thoughtfully appended), I would agree with them.

Of course, Amazon isn't a library. It isn't even a public entity. As a private company, it doesn't have to carry products it doesn't want to, or that it fears would offend the majority of its customers. So it didn't really fall in ALA's wheelhouse.

You just have to wonder, though: why would anyone want to stand up for one of the most compelling instances of evil in history? One clue could be found in the ludicrous "fact-finding" of one of their "researchers." A woman called us, demanding to know my "ethnic background." She complained about "disgusting" images of people with dreadlocks on the ALA website. She wanted to know if…

Are libraries neutral?

Here are my remarks at today's American Library Association Midwinter Conference. Jim Neal's Presidential Program was "Are libraries neutral?" I was first on the "pro" side of the debate.

In 1938, a time with an eery resonance to today, some citizens in Des Moines, Iowa protested a book we would now call hate speech: Hitler's Mein Kampf. Director Forrest Spaulding drafted "A Library's Bill of Rights" to establish for the first time the library's endorsement of intellectual freedom -- the right to access even uncomfortable or offensive content. Maybe, Spaulding said, we needed to know what was going on in the world.

In 1939, ALA Council approved the statement for the entire association.

Implicit in intellectual freedom is the principle of neutrality.

Let me make two things clear.

Neutrality does not mean that librarians have no values. We do. It doesn't mean that institutions don't exist to advance certain goals. Libraries activ…

Evaluating the board

Two persistent topics for public library boards and directors is the performance assessment. I have already posted about the director evaluation here. This post is about a self-assessment for public boards, based on a cooperative effort between the Arapahoe Public Library District and Douglas County Libraries some ten years ago.




Chicago alley

Image
Snapped this yesterday.


Becoming Skippy

Back when I was a teenager, around 16 or so, my friends and I would go to the roller rink. We'd skate around and listen to Motown songs. The person who skated around with us, supervising, was a guy who called himself Skippy.

Skippy was, I guess, 25-30. He was older, to give him that aura of authority. But there was something a little off about him. He had Elvis hair. By that I mean he had an elaborately combed and lightly greased pompadour. You just knew that this was the hair he had wanted to have when he was in high school. Back then, he didn't get to.

At the time, I, like a lot of boys, wanted to look like the Beatles. I didn't get to.

But Skippy, at that moment, could finally look the way he thought was cool. It just wasn't all that cool any more.

Well, a couple of years ago I was walking through an airport and I noticed that I was the only guy in the terminal with long hair. I was washing my hands in an airport restroom and, looking in the mirror, realized, "…