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These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation. See "About Me" for contact information.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

HAATS

Yesterday, I flew up to (via Blackhawk helicopter) and back from (via Chinook helicopter) the Colorado Army National Guard's High Altitude Aviation Training Site.

The undeserved experience was the result of the generosity of one of our staff, who was in the Guard and recently returned from a stint in Iraq. (His story is here.) I'm the director of the organization that treated him well, although the credit really belongs to many others.

Nonetheless, I got some cool photos.

We flew from Buckley Air Force base to the HAATS site in Eagle.

The Blackhawk:



Inside (seated right behind the pilots, looking forward):



Looking out the window (not only unpressurized, but with open windows!):



And this is a photo, out that same window, as we just nudged over the very high point of the divide. Our air speed was about 100 mph.



This is the helicopter I rode on the way back:



The chinook is a troop transport copter. This is what it looked like, toward the pilots.



And this is what it looked like out the back. Again, unpressurized, open windows, 12,000 feet. The back of the copter is a ramp. It doesn't close all the way!



I had so many thoughts.

First, our military people are good folks. They go through a lot. They deserve respectful treatment, even if, especially if, our elected leaders (of either party) make poor decisions.

Second, HAATS instruction is significant. It turns out that navigating helicopters in the mountains (whether in the Rockies, or in Afghanistan) is a tricky business. The Guard flies a lot of rescue missions in state; their expertise saves lives.

Third, Colorado is just extravagantly beautiful. I can recommend seeing it up close and personal from an open helicopter.

Fourth, I am deeply grateful not only to Dean, my staff person who served his country so well, but for the professionalism of the Colorado Army National Guard.

Fifth, our veterans need some help in this economy, particularly, in finding jobs when they get back. I need to find something our library can do about that.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Authors @ Douglas County Libraries

Thanks to the good work of my Assistant, Aspen Walker, we're gradually putting up the "Authors at Douglas County Libraries" programs shot by the Network Douglas County over the past couple of years. You can find the link here.

In particular, I'm pleased to see the interview with Sarah Brannen (author of "Uncle Bobby's Wedding") go up. I don't think it ever made it to the county website.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Right and left agree and me too

This post is based on two articles.

The first is by Peggy Noonan, entitled, America Is at Risk of Boiling Over. Her essential point is this: many Americans today are thinking that things are NOT getting better for their children. She gives some examples that you may or may not agree with. Myself, I really don't think out-of-control immigration is the issue. But I do agree, as would many of the people who regard the nation's literacy and commitment to education as a leading indicator, that we seem to be setting up our children to inherit a little less than what we inherited.

The second is Cash-Strapped States Cut The Lights by Paul Krugman. Krugman's point is much the same: as a nation, we're pulling things apart, by which I mean our most basic infrastructure. And I think he puts his finger on precisely the issue: we're thinking too short term. We think what benefits our pocket books in the short term is what's good for the nation, for our whole species, in the long term. That kind of thinking is, to be blunt, childishly self-centered.

I wish I could say I was surprised. My own take is that (just to take a timely example) the Tea Party folks are the same generation I know intimately: the Boomers. We are institution destroyers. The problem is not our nation, not our economic system, not our political structure. It is the continuing disruption of our shared life by people who want a little more than they are willing to give. Talkin' 'bout my generation.

I believe we are indeed at a point in our culture when we have to start looking ahead. The future is NOT about Baby Boomers. And for the life of me, I wonder why any subsequent generation would listen to us.

I find myself, lately, saying a couple of things over and over.

First, "if you can't win the short game, play a long game."

Second, "it's rare to find someone who can build a sand castle. It's easy to find people who can kick it down."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Carlin rant on ownership


The late, great, brilliant comic George Carlin tells it like it is.

In ancient Greece, people looked to philosophers for the truth. Some societies have looked to poets, or journalists, or even political leaders.

Today, we look to comedians.