Saturday, December 27, 2008

Librarians and the job market

The career of librarian was recently written up in as one of the best careers for 2009. Please note that the rosy view painted in this article is true to a certain extent. However the Norman Rockwellian glow hovering over this article is a bit misleading as libraries are, and will continue, to suffer as a result of the economic issues the nation is experiencing. Municipal libraries suffer greatly because their budget is typically tied directly to the county or city in which they are located. School libraries must fight to retain their own budget levels while continuing to explore methods to remain relevant and interesting to the students. Academic libraries face rising subscription prices, lowering budgets and what seems to be a rising view of the collegiate population that libraries are less than useful with the convenience of the internet so close at hand.
Being a librarian requires grit and grace. It can be rewarding but it's going to take some serious effort and time to see those rewards pay off.

300 posts!

Well, this is actually my 301st which is much more than I ever expected to write. Admittedly the bulk of these are from article postings from the NYT and other places. I plan to be writing more here this year which hopefully will prove interesting and helpful.
1)John Oliff, a professor of Greek and theology at PBU has begun a blog that should definitely be checked out. The blog is Mere Student and is promising to be excellent from the several posts that have been written.
2) IF:Book posted this interview with Helen Dewitt, the author of The Last Samurai. This interview is a really interesting take on the writing process and the rather brutal toll it seems to take on the writer's art. Ms. Dewitt does a fantastic job in this essay/interview to balance the sting and maddening spiral of the editing process with an ironic and cheeky tone. Well worth the read.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008 in Review (at least from my perspective)

My list of best and worst things of 2008
Because it is that time that everyone and their mother's cousin write lists about what they liked/loved/hated in the year, I felt the blurge to join in. (Blurge is a conglomeration of the words "blog" and "urge". The word captures the urge to blog about something essentially meaningless i.e. "I am blurging to write about the snow falling.")
I initially thought about creating a top X number of music or books but that has been done so many times this month it seemed a bit excessive and superfluous. The funniest part of these lists is that at least in my case they seem to revolve around the last six months as mental recall seems to fail at any point past that.

Best thing on TV I discovered this year:
Austin City Limits (Gnarls Barkley is surprisingly good live on television; Thievery Corporation is ridiculously good live; Norah Jones is surprisingly boring.)

My top bands of 2008:
Bon Iver-For Emma Forever Ago
Fleet Foxes--Fleet Foxes/Sun Giant
Okkervil River--The Stand-Ins ( I heard Will Sheff DJ on NPR With Bob Boilen. Amazing range of musical influences and knowledge. Excellent session)
Horse Feathers-House with No Name (stellar!)
I would probably include Margo and the Nuclear So and So's but I haven't heard the whole album yet; my bad!

The one band I really, really hope releases an album in 2009:
MeWithoutYou (They went into the studio in Sept.)

First Monday Podcast and Journal AJ Hanna and Joy Austria are fantastic, witty, brilliant and informed. I faithfully listen to their podcast every month, at least once usually twice to make sure I got it all, and I seriously appreciate the range of scholars and opinions they bring through their podcast. Their sessions with Lawrence Lessig and Bloodshot Records this winter were really awesome)
NPR All Songs Considered Podcast (Bob Boilen is a walking, breathing musical encyclopedia with impeccable taste. My favorites podcasts are the ones where Bob Boilen, Carrie Brownstein, (Monitor Mix blogger), Stephen Thompson (editor for Song of the Day), and Robin Hilton (All Songs producer and host of Second Stage) get together and talk about music. I listened to The Year in Review:2008 twice in a row laughing out loud multiple times. This group did a great job with SXSW as well. Great music; great interviews and good opinions. One of the other best sessions was the Bon Iver concert from SXSW; brilliant! (These guys do an excellent job; good interviews, about 4-5 songs per session, good sound balance, really wide and awesome mix of bands. They make me want to move to Cincinnati.) Awesome library blog; diverse and informed.
In the Library with the Lead Pipe:This is also a great library blog which ties connections to library practice and other thought processes; excellent.
LibraryJuice: Great name, great concept. Titled with "On the intersection of libraries, politics and culture" and definitely meets that title quite well. Did I mention that they are also a publishing press? They have some great titles that I am eager to read, check it out here.

Best Books I read in 2008
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -- Jonathan Safran Foer
Control Revolution -- James Beniger
The Life of the Mind -- James Schall
Surprised by Hope -- N.T. Wright
More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Metaphor -- George Lakoff and Mark Turner
Metaphors We Live By -- George Lakoff and Mark Johnson
A Mighty Heart -- Marianne Pearl
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again -- David Foster Wallace
A Dove Descending -- Thomas Howard
Jesus of Hollywood -- Adele Reinhartz

Excellent Coffee
Paradise Roaster's (These guys are super, timely and caring customer service, quick shipping, amazing and top-shelf selections of coffee. I would highly encourage a purchase of their coffee. It's good for your as well as being a spot-on sophisticated gift!!)

Personally exciting
New job as Director of Library Services at Davis College.

Personally horrible:
Not selling our home so that during the week my wife is living in Phila while I live in Binghamton, NY. Anybody want to buy a house, that would make our year!

Merry Christmas! Peace.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Consider the Philosopher

Consider the Philosopher

This is an article about David Foster Wallace whom I was not at all familiar or even aware of until his death this past September. However it was not until last week when I came across his commencement speech given at Kenyon in May 2005, that I realized this is someone I need to read. I'm currently his collection of essays entitled A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. Wallace is brilliant in this book and reading the NY Times article above continues to demonstrate this brilliance. I have not yet read any of his fictional works but they are now on my list. It is Wallace's careful and thoughtful handling of language and demonstrating continued appreciation for its power without succumbing to love of language for its own sake.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Turning 100 at Carnegie Hall, With New Notes

Happy Birthday Mr. Carter

“I’d rather hear them play good contemporary music than old music,” he said of the performers devoted to his wworks...20th-century composers “have a spark” and convey “what it is like to be living now,” he [Elliot Carter] said." Bravo sir!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Good News for NY State Libraries

I received this email a couple minutes ago. (I did actually advocate from my desk on behalf of this so this is really excellent. Also this effects our grant money from NY State so hopefully we will get that soon. Now only if Phila would get their act together...)

"Dear Library Advocate,
I want to let you know that your participation in NYLA's advocacy efforts has helped release $26 million in undistributed Library Aid from the approved 2008-09 State Budget. 
As you know, the state was holding onto the undistributed funds pending an agreement with the state Legislature on further mid-year budget cuts.   Since those cuts were not agreed to by the state Legislature (and the NYLA Library Rally on November 18th impacted that decision), the remaining funds have been authorized to be released.   These undistributed funds include aid for the NYC libraries, library systems, Conservation and Preservation Program, Indian Libraries and Coordinated Collection Development Aid (CCDA)  for college libraries.
So thanks again to all of you in the library community who joined us in advocating on behalf of all libraries.  United we stand, divided we fall!
Stay tune for further NYLA Legislative Alerts. The Governor will be releasing his 2009-10 Executive Budget next week on December 16th, and there will be more work for NYLA and library advocates to do.  In addition, President-Elect Obama and Congress are discussing an economic stimulus package for public works projects and we are working with ALA to insure that libraries receive their fair share of any stimulus package.

Michael J. Borges
Executive Director
New York Library Association"

Reclaiming a Poet: Old Words, New Music

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't look now but

Google generation has no need for rote learning
Google, stupidity, and libraries

These are three fairly recent articles on the continued perceived impact of Google on research and students. I've had the privilege of some impromptu interviewing with approximately 25 freshman in the past week on their semester's experience of working with the library's databases and other resources. As a librarian who is deeply concerned and interested in developing good research practice, Google's ease of use has proven to be a double-edged sword. The first link deals experessly with this idea and has deep implications for the sharing and understanding of knowledge. Rote learning is important because it enables the students later in life to make the necessary connections between history, art and living. Relying on Google to be the fount of knowledge locks the premise of learning into a marketing-driven product that will continue to churn out consumer-driven students to a greater extent than the present. Since Google's search results, can now be removed and adjusted by the user as well as ability of the results to be manipulated by paying Google more creates incredibly skewed knowledge base. The premise that we can rely on one knowledge source, compiled by one company is incredibly short-sighted by the user. Yes we can look up information but the looking up of information only makes sense of if we can make connections between we are looking for and what we already know. To only look up information but not to retain it will continue to transform and weaken our language, our writing and our education as well as the continued transformation of information into a cheap commodity with little redeeming value.
How do we redeem this process? Librarians and educators must stand firm and push back against this ease of information age. We must require more of our students, working together to create syllabi and processes to push/force our students through the research process. In all of its Hegelian process, the students must come into conflict with multiple aspects of information literacy and interaction. To allow them to use only one source of information is to cheapen their education and rob them of their tuition. It is not my desire to get students to use the library simply because I work in one but we need to be concerned with helping to create scholars. Not in the sense of an ivory tower but in the sense of creating intelligent, critically thinking, continuous students interacting with language, culture, faith, aesthetics and God to better impact our world. We have a unique opportunity in this postmodern culture to seize upon vehicles of thought that were previously unavailable, especially that of narrative knowledge. Google is a good example of this as the user can enter in a narrative-based question/phrase that returns narrative/mythical results. However we must temper this basis of narrative knowledge with the ability to critically assess and weight information and transmute it into knowledge. This is not something every student will embrace but I believe every student must confront it head-on or we will lose more than can be currently foreseen or calculated.

Continuing the Milton Birthday Fest

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Milton versus ShakespeareMilton versus Shakespeare


Milton versus Shakespeare

the best part of this article is the day long reading of "Paradise Lost" in its entirety at Cambridge. That is at the same level of Bloomsday; community reading a shared text that supports a cultural heritage and influences the way a culture reads, writes, thinks and interacts with texts, narratives and myth."He [Milton] knew that myth was a concrete and dramatic rendering of a truth that could be rendered in no other way; and of the validity of that truth he had not doubt."Milton attempts throughout the poem to justify the ways of God to man.  While I have not read Paradise Lost deeply nor in its entireity, the parts I have read show an interesting effect on the historical thinking of evangelicals in terms of how Satan is viewed, especially in the relationship to the serpent and the view of human will. You can read Paradise Lost here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The tyranny of the to-read pile

The tyranny of the to-read pile

This is a good article but the best part of reading this is the incredible two pages of fifty-five comments which read like the minutes of a book support group for those of us who struggle with that gathering of leering books staring back at us from the shelf or shelves,  knowing and sharing the secret shame we each feel every time I glance at Adorno's Aesthetics; that shame which is easily smoothed over when proudly displaying the contents of one's shelves to visitors with the promise to the transitory individual that this one is next on the list, which, as soon as the dinner guest has departed, said imaginary list is immediately deleted and reality reinserts itself; so if this is your support group, please join in and add your voice to the harmonious moan.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rest is Noise receives additional kudos

Alex Ross's book The Rest is Noise continues to garner kudos. This time from the Guardian. Check it out here in Ross's words and here in the Guardian's.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

NextGen: Embracing My Authority

NextGen: Embracing My Authority

There are some remarkable changes in thinking that I share with this article. It is the interactions with students about their lives that is defining my role and understanding of my role to a much greater extent than chasing down articles and trapping information. It's good but additionally challenging. It is good having an office and not having a cubicle.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kerouac's On the Road manuscript travels to the Midlands

Kerouac's On the Road manuscript travels to the Midlands

When, please tell me, will the realization that Kerouac did not actually write On the Road in 3 weeks become acceptable.Here's the second It's a great urban legend that Kerouac rocked the typewriter for 20 hours straight. I'm not sure why the Guardian managed to get this item wrong twice in one week. It's also disturbing that this item is never footnoted. Check out Windblown World by David Brinkley who offers solid evidence that Kerouac wrote this book over several months.
What is happening with the Guardian this week?
Never mind; check this out.

Gay Bible angers Christians

Not Art Rock: Top 10 'Smart Rock' Albums

Monday, December 1, 2008

Long live the library revolution;

Long live the library revolution

I like the Guardian. I think the writers do a decent job and I enjoy the British perspective as well as their highlight of non-US writers. Also, I typically cheer on articles on libraries from mainstream and diverse publications.  It is not my purpose to belittle this article however there were a couple of items that bothered me as a librarian to which I would like to add some clarification.
1) The blogs mentioned are not the best representation of librarian blogs.The blog Lipstick Librarian mentioned in the article has posted little to anything helpful on libraries in the past two months. Free Range Librarian presents interesting topics but it's not really helpful for items dealing with library issues. These are not blogs that I would read for help or input. I would suggest Library Juice which is both a press and an excellent, fully encompassing library blog. features the writings and thoughts of librarian consultant Jessamyn West; this is a well-developed and helpful site. Librarian in Black, while having the hands-down, coolest name, also has provides updated technological and librarian related items. These blogs represent a much better cross-section of librarian thoughts and writing that I think truly represent the thinking for the "new breed of librarians".
2) The first sentence of the last paragraph of the article states: "Librarians are the gatekeepers and guides to a world in which information is now in abundance and the democratization of access to it is of ever-increasing importance." I would disagree; librarians no longer function as gatekeepers. This is a role they used to hold but have been forced to re-examine that role because of the abudance of information. People are now their own gatekeepers. Historically, the library functioned as the bank of information for most families, especially those from middle-income and lower income families. Patrons utilized libraries to access information that they could not find elsewhere. They queried the library staff, who acted as portals, to attain the information they needed. This relationship helped to cause librarians to see themselves as guardians of information rather than its purveyors. The true revolution in librarianship has been the continued transformation of library services to stay relevant, useful and informative. Librarians now act as filters and directors; along with locating print sources, librarians also are helping patrons to understand how to better comprehend and evaluate their search results as well as pointing them to good search methods. Our goal is not to guard information but to give the best access to the best possible information.
The library is admitteldy an odd place that functions in a way that is quite different than most other institutions in the 21st century. While public libraries and school libraries require tax dollars and public support to function and academic libraries must wrestle with the institutions' budget to gain their funds, they offer a unique range of services that are not available anywhere else. Libraries exist to serve and those libraries who truly understand their purpose continue to evaluate and re-evaluate their offerings in order to better understand how their patrons view the changing world of information retrieval. That is the library revolution.

Going Off to College for Less (Passport Required)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thomas Nelson Publishing and the Blog Reviewer Program

I signed up for the Thomas Nelson Publishing Blogger Review deal. Initially I'm not impressed by their offerings.Check out the book here. This was the best one; seriously.Look for a review shortly once the book is received.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Study Finds Teenagers’ Internet Socializing Isn’t Such a Bad Thing

Study Finds Teenagers’ Internet Socializing Isn’t Such a Bad Thing

The second paragraph is immediately interesting as the ability to "create" a home page is part of the skill set for contemporary living. Regardless of problem solving or communication, you need to be able to pick out your fav pic and upload it to your profile. That's going to come in handy later in life. If these kids are creating html and flash pages from scratch then they should get serious kudos. Signing up for MySpace and Facebook does not count nor can you include that on a resume. Also towards the end of article the study manages to find that people look up information online and use it giving the example of using an image search to understand how to install a video card. High-five to the kid who figured that out; it does show some creativity. Did we really need a study to figure that out? I look up information on a very consistent basis as a librarian, where's my study? Librarians use information, study finds...
It is also interesting to note the redefintion of terms that occurs in this article. The idea of an intimate community is redefined by text messaging and instant messaging. Intimacy is redefined then as being accessible not on the level of communication that occurs between two or more people. Intimacy is no longer sharing or deepening relationship but intertwining superficialities based on a pirated and poor, acronymic language.
In his book Mythologies Barthes discusses signifiers of the bourgeious such as red wine. Barthes tracks how in France red wine has become a social equaliser and a thing, a myth, greater than what was simply a bottle of wine. It is the same with this study. This study cannot offer us any actual factual information about internet socializing. The use of Facebook or Myspace, and the culture and language of texting, has become a signifier of what teens do and has successfully assumed its place as asign, a mythology that now drives and informs the interactions of these individuals. This use of internet socialization has become necessary to interact with people of similar age.
All this study does is to notice and to help this  practice to become taken as given in our particular culture.

Al-Qaeda vows to hurt Obama's US

Al-Qaeda vows to hurt Obama's US

I really, really hate terrorists. I am curious what gives an motley, insurgent group the gall to call America a criminal and see themselves as righteous defenders of truth, at the very least when you consider their treatment of women.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

OCLC and the paradigm shift

This is much better than my understanding and explanation of OCLC's grab for information. Stefano Mazzochi takes on not only the present situation but some excellent thoughts and solutions for what the future will bring and require from us as librarians to rebuild OCLC in a better fashion. Read it here

(Found this info via a post by the blog of library consultant Jessamyn West; excellent blog, excellent writing.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Maelstrom Over Metadata

Maelstrom Over Metadata

OCLC is definitely trying to pull a bit of a fast one with this metadata appropriation. The comments after the article give some additional information as well. OCLC's move is not unlike Wikipedia deciding to finally charge for people to access the records they originally helped to create, police and confirm. This move, at the very least, proves the value of information within our society. If nothing else the appropriation of what was/is public access information proves the monetarily and intrisic value of information to a corporation that takes precedent when they can make profit from it. If OCLC continues to go through with this, it will set a potentially mistrustful relationship with any other companies that gather information from public sources. Users/participants will require additional legalese to protect their investment of time and records challenging the perceived openess of the Web.

IRCAM: The Quiet House Of Sound

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Church Preaches The Music Of Beethoven

Church Preaches The Music Of Beethoven

"...the idea is to find spirituality through culture, through the cultural
gifts that so many people have suffered for and created over so many
generations..." There is some truth to this and value. Viewing these cultural gifts, such as Brahms' Requiem or Bach's cantatas outside of their, purportedly, sacred settings can diminish a complete apprerication for their work. The idea of this church does make a strong argument for absolute music, music that exists for itself and not to express or imply a "program" or underlying meaning. To some extent this is where churches, such as Tenth Pres in Phila have successfully used culture to point towards spirituality; music as a vehicle to point to the glory of God not as an end in itself.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lessons of a Summer Teaching Online

Lessons of a Summer Teaching Online

I wholeheartedly agree with the advice to not to offer group projects for online classes. It is brutal and fairly ridiculous to attempt to get people with full time jobs and family to schedule multiple times to work on these group projects. I despise group projects anyway; I prefer group discussion. That way the person(s) that didn't do the work get to enjoy the discussion instead of capitalizing on the rest of the group's work. 

This American Moment — The Surprises

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth

Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth

Why the online encyclopedia's epistemology should worry those who care about traditional notions of accuracy.

By Simson L. Garfinkel

Monday, October 20, 2008

Grass Returns!!

Not coming to terms with the past

Grass has published the second volume of his autobiography; Die Box!  Unfortunately it is not going to be available in English until the end of next year which is reflective of a trend in American publishing not to publish or push translations, which has been a prominent theme in the Guardian recently, esp. in light of the recent Nobel Prize. I wonder if the insularity of the publishing community is because of their assumption of the public's reading habits. Unfortunately I also think they are right especially considering the reading public who is walking through the standard book-stores i.e. Border's/B&N who are not interested, for the most part, in any translated work. I'm dealing with students at the reference desk who are asking me "How do I read this book?" referring to Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.This question is definitively dealing with comprehension, understanding and perserverance.  Upon graduation are these individuals going to be interested in translated works, having barely moved into the English canon? This seems unlikely unless I as a librarian and others who are bridging this gap can helpfully and skillfully guide these students into new realms of reading and understanding.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why poets take trains

Why poets take trains

I would gladly take a train to work. After taking a 24 hour train ride to Purdue, Indiana as a college freshman, a deep appreciation and enjoyment of train rides was bestowed upon me. The observatory car was completely made of glass and you could watch the landscape slide past and the sun beat down on the book pages. Also the fact that we would stand between the cars like surfers on training wheels until the conductors would kick us out since we were not supposed to be there anyway. For some reason, at the age of 14 I was interested in small places and, being 14, stayed awake most of the night. Once I realized I was tired enough to go to sleep everyone else was awake so I curled up underneath the footrests of two seats and slept for about 4 hours there.
Riding the train trumps driving because the train ride removes the responsibility of paying attention to the details of others' erratic steering and allows you to see, listen and contemplate. Attempting any or all three of these at the wheel, for myself at least, typically ends in a wild wheel jerk to get my car off the rumble strip which is alarming both to the other cars and my wife and not at all conducive to the state of contemplation being pursued.
My next "road trip" goal is to take the train from Rochester, NY to Chicago, IL. It's only about 11 hours and cheaper than driving.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lost in the Rest Home

Lost in the Rest Home

Hurrah John Barth!!!

The Ambition of the Short Story

Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers

I sincerely doubt that libraries who use these gaming nights to pull in people are doing it to encourage reading. "Spurred by arguments that video games also may teach a kind of digital
literacy that is becoming as important as proficiency in print,
libraries are hosting gaming tournaments, while schools are exploring
how to incorporate video games in the classroom." It is difficult to say if these video game nights are anything less than publicity acts to pull people into the library which may not be a bad thing. But we should not attempt to disguise it in the guise of teaching kids to read.
There is an assumption, which is voiced in this article though not necessarily held by it, that all kids are now digitally-oriented and I do not think that is the case. Having a Facebook/My-Space account does not a digital native make nor does spending hours texting count either. Unfortunately, I do not yet have a good definition of digital native simply to say I do not agree with the term as I do not think it apt. It does not yet seem that the coming generation is developing as a digital generation but rather as a generation of isolated people. On the second page of this article, one young gamer says that reading is a solitary activity, that you cannot challenge someone to a reading duel. In response, not all games are multiplayer. Many are undertaken in solitude, spending hours to beat the game.
The immersion in this video-game realm does not, as least in my experience, promote better imagination or creativity. There is a quote from Mr. Jay Parini at the bottom of the second page of htis article. He says “I wouldn’t be surprised if, in 10 or 20 years, video games are
creating fictional universes which are every bit as complex as the
world of fiction of Dickens or Dostoevsky." How do we know if these universes are complex? Because we have read books in which complex universes are created. How did Tolkien create his incredibly rich and complex Middle-Earth? He was steeped in mythology and out of a combination of his encountering with that mythology and from his own logic, intuition and knowledge was birthed this world.
I myself played an immense amount of World of Warcraft my senior year of college but the reason I played it was that one of my friends was into it and I would go hang out with him and we would play into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes on several nights a week. The main reason I stuck with it so long was for the reason that he played as well and would often hook me up with great runes. Playing the game gave us additional common ground. At the end of my senior year, he moved away and I have not played World of Warcraft since but we have kept in touch. This is simply an awkard segue into this ending thought.
Thomas Howard in his work "Dove Descending" on T.S. Eliot's "4 Quartets" states, "...the Way to Reality is to be found via time and all that belongs to it, namely, our history, our mortal life and our daily experience...they stand starkly against all forms of escape. Gnosticism, Oriental religions, Platonism and our own reveries (emphasis mine) invite us to fly from the prison of time and the flesh to some eternal and "spiritual" (read "disembodied") state of affaris untouched by change and decay." (p. 41) I cannot find much redeeming value to teach learning in a medium that allows to attain to a state of being untouched by change and decay. I found it very doubtful that video games, which typically allow and encourage the helpful evolution of the character, often rendering them impregnable at a certain point, are compatible with literature which when attempting to answer the question of what is show the baseness and depravity of man.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A book is an e-book is a computer game is a film is a website

A book is an e-book is a computer game is a film is a website

So who would like to sponsor my trip to Frankfurt? I will take any forms of currency. Also, I promise a full report complete with pictures.
You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bon Iver: Sparse And Ghostly

Bon Iver: Sparse And Ghostly

NPR loves this guy which is awesome. Because he is really good. Another Bon Iver interview; enjoy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

College Panel Calls for Less Focus on SATs

College Panel Calls for Less Focus on SATs

boo-yah! Though the suggestors of less focus on the SATs still want to use a test score but based on individual subjects. This may have a far-reaching effect in gauging how students are learning in high-school and force the removal of standarized tests at the high-school level. I think less focus on the SATs will require better teachers but hopefully will give motivated learners the chance to learn subject areas as important to learning across high school and college levels which will, hopefully, carryt them into learning after college.

From Inside Higher Ed

Dramatic Challenge to SAT and ACT

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Motorcycles and thought

Have you seen this book? Zen and Now: On the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Mark Richardson. I saw it this evening. I leafed through it. I read several pages. I put it down in disappointment. It is possible that my perception was skewed as I was looking at the new arrivals table which has historically contained less than stellar selections. The discerning reader can only hope, deeply deeply hope, that the real new arrivals from the publishing house are either still on a pallet in the back or someone placed the authentic new arrivals on the 50% table.
As any knowledge-seeking young man, I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I finished the work and desperately wanted to own a motorcycle and think really deep thoughts.
My motorcycle fever has waned though I'm still trying to think some semi-deep thoughts. While I don't completely agree with some of Pirsig's premises, the book attempts to find out
what is and consistently asks and interacts with worthwhile questions. Pirsig also is a brilliant writer. His descriptions, settings, interactions with the landscape,
the romance he shares with his bike, his detailed inner struggles told through a thrid-person narrative are excellent. The premise of Zen and Now is that Richardson is retracing
Pirsig's journey. This is not unheard of or unusual and so I was somewhat interested in the description of Richardson's journey. However, Richardson simply summarizes chunks of
what Pirsig was writing about. Frankly, the majority of people woh are going to pick up Zen and Now are going to be people who are already interested in Pirisig and
most likely have already read him. We don't need an Pirsig exegesis; we've already clocked hours in coffee shops doing that. The book seems like a publisher's ploy to cash
in on Pirisig's work which is basically alluded to on the inside cover of the dust jacket. The dust jacket indicates Zen and Now was published to coincide with the 40th anniversary
of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I was hoping for a much stronger showing for anyone attempting to retrace and/or recapture Pirsig's journey and thoughts.

This is old but good

Douglas Coupland : Polaroids From The Dead : From Fear To Eternity

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the farce of balance

I've stopped using the word balance. I don't think it exists; the it being the idea of balance as a method of living. Perhaps it is applicable in the realm of gymnastics or in purely mechanical
terms. A balanced life? I think what people mean when they say balanced is controlled, manageable. In pursuing what Schall describes as the life of the mind, this involves moving towards what becomes an unbalanced life. Not mentally unbalanced or out of control but a life that is continually questioning the other, to know what is and attempting to reatively,intelligently and logically answer those questions. This goal, I think, requires a dialectical view of the nature of things.
Reading one book is out of balance because it means that I'm not reading at least one other book or even multiple books that might be more balanced.
This is taken from Barthes' idea that the one thought being written or said is at the expense of another thought being written or read. To ask questions is to create conflict.
Balance and seeking it requires not asking questions attempting to find a standard of normalcy in which one can operate. While Hegel proposed dialectical view of history to understand
how events in history meshed together, his view of thesis, antithesis, synthesis helps to understand our process of encountering and thinking through difficult and complex issues.
Perceiving balance as a possible method of living or pursuing balance as a method of living is to disregard Hegel's view entirely to the extreme detriment of the individual.
How is the dialectical process fed? I would argue that it is primarily done through reading, writing and discourse. The solitary individual can ask themselves a series of questions to work through the dialectical process but I think, based on experience that it is much better to engage with other people in this process. This is especially because other people have read books that I have not other people have asked questions that I have not and have resources that I do not have. These questions if properly ask will upset the balance I may have created in the manipulation of any knowledge I have possibly attained. The goal of questioning is not to blow one's life or family members' life into complete disarray but to attempt to determine from life's texts what can be learned from them.
(A note: I was thinking about this some more and one of the best illustrations of this idea is Bach, especially his inventions or his fugues. Ideas and motives are introduced against each other for their mutual dissonance, passing, conflict and resolution. Each requires the other and it is in experiencing the other that the full potential of the motive is realized.
The other thought I had was Schenkerian in nature. Schenker believed, if I remember correctly, that any music could be reduced to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. He arrived at this, in any number of pieces, by reducing the items in the piece to a background, middleground and foreground. It may sound ridiculious and it is slightly but Schenker's method of approaching the piece is quite helpful. I think this approach also lends some understanding to understanding my role. Whatever the narrative or musical work, pick your metaphor, of my living is reduced to its smallest form it should resound the Westminster Shorter Catchecism. "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

THE DEATH OF THE BOOK (oh really?)

I would like to suggest that the next person to title on an article on books in the 21st century a Death of the Book in another cute, smarter-than-digital article praising the triumph of books over digital and suggesting the continued success of books should be denied access to the Internet for about a year. (granted I'm not sure when this was published. I think a rational guess would be 2000 or 2001 based on the bibliography at bottom of the page.) That would make this article rather dated which I think shows in the author's outlook on the perceived continued success of reading physical books. This article also does not take into account the report released a year and a half ago about the low rate of people reading nationwide. The argument focuses on digital vs. physical but the issue is deeper than that. The issue is, I think, a loss, in being interested in what is (as per James Schall) The problem is not E-Ink versus paper, information is being shared either through digital or paper, it's the pursuit of knowledge for its own rather than the value of its entertainment or its financial value. The what is search is not to be the most esoteric or the most philosophical but to express an geniune and continued concern and interest in knowledge for its own sake. It's a process. People not reading is more important than if books or digital is going to "win". The percieved winning trashes the pursuit of the what is, the other in hope of aspiring to the top of the heap. My issue is that the only reason books are being read at all is because the romance novel, erotica, detective story and health/wealth books are carrying the pack. If you don't believe me check out any used bookstore on the eastern seaboard. What's the largest section? Romance, hands-down. My wife and I visited the book barn in Connecticut last month. I spent 2 hours in the fiction shack. There was no Brautigan and only one Barthelme, which I promptly purchased. Why is this? Not because people are not reading these books but because they are not getting rid of them. Used book stores show the consumptive readers waste products; trade-paperbacks barely held together to sustain their flimsy pages past one reading let alone annotation.
Technology will continue to declare the death of the past; it's the nature of the technological hopefuls. They seem to consistently deny their history. Bibliophiles, on the other hand continue to claim the past will triumph despite whithering numbers of true readership. The goal is once again excite in people a joy in the journey of discovering what is, encountering the life of their minds. Neither technology nor printed materials will do that. It requires a change of focus, a paradigm shift.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I've actually never been to Wordsmiths Books. I've never met these people and I'm not sure I ever will. It's a high possibility that whoever is reading this entry may never make it to Wordsmith, either. However Wordsmiths Books represents a tradition and way of thinking and philosohpy that must not only be preserved but encouraged to flourish. The potential loss of this bookstore is a great loss that should and must be circumvented. This is not simply a little guy versus big guy fight but the continuation of the individual sensibility in the face of overwhelming, flattening sameness purported by such places as Amazon or B&N. These places are not bad but after leaving them any belief or hope in the uniqueness of books is quickly squashed. Wordsmiths continues the presentation and examination of books as unique artifacts; narratives and fictions that help us find and understand our place in the world.
Please seriously consider supporting Wordsmiths Books.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

From Revolutionary to Normative: A Secret History of Dada and Surrealism in American Music

From Revolutionary to Normative: A Secret History of Dada and Surrealism in American Music
A new article published earlier this month by noted Philadelphian composer and scholar, Matthew Greenbaum and here He also studied with Wolpe which makes him uniquely qualified to write this article. I Loved Well Those Cities is a spectactular work that spun its way through my ipod for a while. A Floating Island is also really well done. Musicians are uniquely qualified to write because they are constantly required to be rooted in the past, history, to analyze their responses to the music they are writing and playing. Good musicians, and i think Greenbaum lands squarely in this category, move into a philosophy of music as informing their historical perspective. Why else would one write an article on Dada and Surrealism if the importance of past events bearing on the present and the future was not considered? The point is not to simply apply the understanding of the past to a single area, such as music or art, but to an overarching understanding of one's conection to the present day. This stance is definitively influenced by Postman's work, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, which I would highly recommend.

Poster poems: Listen to the music, write on

Poster poems: Listen to the music, write on

Any association of two items under the reference of "kissing cousins" is an unfortunate one, but Mills makes an excellent point in this piece. It is interesting that he doesn't mention Joyce or the music that his poems have been set to. Also check out people's responses to this post. There are myriad of songs and poems mentioned and posted in response this author's writing. The poem below is referenced in the post. You may clicked on it but I wanted to make sure it was available. Sandburg is one of my favorite poets. His Honey and Salt book is exceptional.

Carl Sandburg (1878–1967). Smoke and Steel. 1922.

III. Broken-Face Gargoyles
6. Jazz Fantasia

"DRUM on your drums, batter on your banjoes, sob on the long cool winding saxophones. Go to it, O jazzmen.

Sling your knuckles on the bottoms of the happy tin pans, let your trombones ooze, and go hushahusha-hush with the slippery sand-paper.

Moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome tree-tops, moan soft like you wanted somebody terrible, cry like a racing car slipping away from a motorcycle cop, bang-bang! you jazzmen, bang altogether drums, traps, banjoes, horns, tin cans—make two people fight on the top of a stairway and scratch each other’s eyes in a clinch tumbling down the stairs.

Can the rough stuff … now a Mississippi steamboat pushes up the night river with a hoo-hoo-hoo-oo … and the green lanterns calling to the high soft stars … a red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills … go to it, O jazzmen."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Composing behind closed doors

Composing behind closed doors

Philadelphia's Harry Hewitt, prolific, gentlemanly and unknown, is getting a hearing five years after his death.
This is David Patrick Stearns' article on Hewitt from his interview with Jennifer Kleenman, Dr. Hsu and Betty Hewitt. Overall it's a pretty good picture of Hewitt. It also presents Hewitt with human flaws which is somewhat difficult to completely swallow after being so close to his work and his writings and being so invested in his music. While it's difficult to capture a person's life in 1000 words or less I think Stearns does a decent job. The particular item I would respectfully disagree with is Stearns' short analysis of Hewitt's Symphony No. 32. It's not entirely removed from the sphere of art that the listener is to step into a piece which begins and ends at the points that the composer thinks are important. This in support of the idea that the musical or literary idea continues both before and after the listener or reader steps into interaction with it.
I would also take slight umbrage at Stearns' insinuation that Hewitt was deluded at points in his life. While Hewitt was definitively strange I'm not entirely sure how much of a logical step it would be for Stearns to imply Hewitt was somewhat less than mentally stable. Besides that it is good to see Hewitt in print. I hope it continues.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Taking Obama as well read

Taking Obama as well read

I wonder if in some ways that the contents of Obama's bookshelf is designed to smoke screen whatever issue(s) or platform(s) that Obama is or will espouse. One can have a large amount of books on their bookshelf and the assumption becomes that the individual has indeed read those books. It seems that the bookshelf also functions as the proverbial candidate tie that the casual voter uses to make their decision. The fact that Brooks mentions the reading habits of past Presidents. To paraphrase a Postman-like idea, perhaps what is mentioned as being on Obama's shelf and thus important is as not as meaningful as what is not on the shelf or is not mentioned. How authentic is a list of what is on Obama's bookshelf as a presidential candidate? I think if a list of books are being used to identify an individual that list will be carefully tailored and presented.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Print and Story

"Bookshops are fine if you already love books, but how do you fall in love with books? Where does it start? There have to be books everywhere, in places where you go before you know you're a reader."(pg. 118 The Story so Far Corey Doctorow, available here
) I'm not a huge Doctorow fan simply because I think he skimps on quality in place of attempting to make a point and skates remarkably close to awkward allegory. I do like this story even for its remarkable transparency. I would take some umbrage with the quote above, however. It's the rosetta stone of this short story as it appears highlighted and bold in the margins on page 118. Neil Postman in his work Building a Bride to the 18th Century makes the point that people reach for their televisions like they used to reach for magazines. Channel surfing is equivalent to page flipping only stopping to read an article/editorial/comic or short story is remarkably and essentially different than landing on a particular program and sinking into it. Books have been everywhere and that has not helped or changed a public's view of them. It is not presence but perspective that is required. It is arguable that in the case of crime a police presence is helpful to deter it but I'm not convinced that the mere presence of books is intimidating enough to encourage people to read. I.E. Douglas Coupland's book Elanor Rigby was selling for a dollar today in B&N. I had already bought a copy of this work when it hit $5 otherwise I would picked up the cheaper copy. Books are continually around us but I would echo the sentiments of bookshop owner of Doctorow's story on the first page. "Honestly, practically no one read books anymore and what they did read was mostly rubbish."(pg. 116) As a future/budding librarian it is my job to encourage the perspective of books on others. This is not simply the art and practice of reading but a thought process and interaction that reflects the logical order of a printed work. I wish this was my idea but credit goes once again to Postman and his Bride to the 18th Century. Postman suggest, and rightly so I think, that "In a culture dominated by print, pbulic discourse tends to be characterized by a coherent, orderly arrangement of facts and ideas. The public for whom it is intnded is generally competent to manage such discource. In a print culture, writers make mistakes when they lie, contradict themselves, fail to suppor thtei generalizations, try to force illogical connections. In a print culture, readers make mistakes when they don't notice, or even worse, don't care." (Pgs. 149-150 Building a Bridge to the 18th Century)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I've not been posting to this site as much because of my latest project through which I have entered into the world of web hosting and to some extent, web design. I set t his site up through which is remarkably cheap and incredibly feature rich. is running off of the WordPress platform. Thanks to the multitude of plug-ins by its users the site is pretty excellent right now. The only thing that may change is the theme. is designed to provide a space for people to discuss ideas particularly those related to education, theology and philosophy. The site's purpose is to foster community based on the relationships that we have already established.
check it out; feel free to register and use the submissions tab to send us some good stuff.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A triad

To begin I'm finally registered for classes after a week of nonsense. I'm about three weeks behind but I knocked out all the work for the one class. God is good as it is all reading and writing which I can do ad nauseum at this point.
1)First part of the triad:why does B&N provide such comfortable chairs? If you walk upstairs, at any given point in the afternoon, there are people in the overstuffed chairs warmed by the sun from the store front windows, completely and utterly asleep. Are their own homes so uncomfortable that they must seek out a retail store to sleep? Or has the purpose of text been relegated to the night stand and afternoon naps as it has lost the ability to compete for the attention of the browsing consumer who is unable to maintain concentration on static print in the absence of visual images. I'm hoping that B&N employees will begin to come around with blankets and pillows at some point.
2) I finished Postman's Conscientious Objections at lunch today. It's very good. I think it is a good introduction to Postman's thinking because it is a collection of his essays and he was kind enough to leave in essays in which he explains certain ideas multiple times which allows the reader to firmly grasp them. I read one of my favorite quotes today while finishing this work which I will share with you.
"A culture does not have to force scholar to flee to render them impotent. A culture does not have to burn books to assure that they will not be read." (pg. 165)
An overstuffed armchair and an overstuffed imagination are sufficient.

Obama Claims Nomination; First Black to Lead a Major Party Ticket

Obama Claims Nomination; First Black to Lead a Major Party Ticket

he's got it. I wonder how divisive this election will be.

Obama Poised to Clinch the Nomination as S.D. Polls Close

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Hay festival: Rushdie's return to magical thinking

There's a definitive buzz about the literary world in regards to Rushdie's new book. I must confess that I haven't read any of Rushdie's work yet though his Satanic Verses has come highly recommended and necessary read.

Designers Teach Glass (and Themselves) New Tricks

Tim Dubitsky['s], of the creative agency Li Inc., ...most ambitious project was
to encase a book in glass, with the caveat that the container would
have to be broken for the book to be read. The glass masters created a
delicate casing a little more than one-eighth of an inch thick, which
they allowed to cool overnight before inserting the book and then
sealing up the end."

Why encase a book? There is art in the physical appearance,feel and weight of a book. I would happily admit that the tactile experience of physically interacting with a written work is second to none and also admit that there are definitive moments throughout the week when I find myself simply gazing at the bookshelves in our house, I would,however, question the point of encasing a work in glass.It recalls the idea of a fire extinguisher where the item that would save our house from burning to the ground is held safe and sound in a cave resting until needed. books are not fire extinguishers and they differ on one main metaphorical point. The content of the fire extinguisher will ideally do the same thing each time, which is to put out the fire but the content of the work is not known until the contents of the work have been ingested and marinated in until the work's ideas have added themselves or taken over an individuals world view. By encasing a book in glass the effectiveness of the work is rendered null. The contents, the most important aspect of the work, are kept under glass revealing only the cover of the work which is not sufficient to determine, when the time is ripe and necessary to crack the glass, if the contents are pointed and poignant for the situation.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008



This is a really sweet project from Digital Scholarship in the Humanities
which I stumbled across while looking for something else. DiRT is an acronym for Digital Research Tools and is designed to collect "information about tools and resources that can help scholars
(particularly in the humanities and social sciences) conduct research
more efficiently or creatively." (Quoted from DiRT's introduction) This is an excellent idea to be able to gather, to a certain extent, many of the already used and established tools to be essentially peer-reviewed as well as providing a space for new tools and resources to be made known. DiRT also seems to provide a forum for discussion on these various items as well. This should be an excellent project. I've already slapped the feed on my igoogle page and am excited to see what's coming up.

Live Tonight: The Raconteurs in Concert

Live Tonight: The Raconteurs in Concert

(or listen on your computer like i will be or download the podcast like I probably will)


This is one of those rare posts when I have accrued enough interesting things to give a personal update on things.
1) Memorial Day weekend: Kara and I went out to Voluntown Connecticut to hang out Kara's parents and Lori/Geoff/thor. Hang out in this case means work in the yard which was totally awesome as it was good to be outside. Chip managed to be up by 7 am on both Sunday and monday so I spent the better part of an hour playing ball from 7-8 on both mornings which was actually really really nice. While we were driving to get ice cream on Monday evening there was a house with a large plywood board with a hand painted sign that asked "Did the 4 o'clock thief come yet?" I have no idea what that means but it was a great sign. (It will also be the name of the next band i'm in. "Hi we're 4 o'clock thief" or "Hi we're the 4 o'clock thieves..")
2) There's a link in the upper right hand corner that will, eventually, give updates as I am able on what I'm reading and where exactly I'm at. I'm not totally sure of how it's going to go but it's worth checking out. It requires a twitter account and I'm having some difficulty setting it up but hopefully that's due to the twitter issue happening currently.
3) This brings the total amount of social network type items I am signed up with to 4.
Technically I have a xanga account as well but have not updated that in a while and am not planning on it. My network accounts on these are not simply for fun but also to see what new technologies are developing and how other people are using these technologies.
Facebook is probably the best at this point.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The future of Writing Conference

The Future of Writing Conference
This conference looks really interesting. It's being hosted at the Davis Humanities Institute/University of California. There are some good questions being asked and the mixture of digital artwork as well as papers offers an opportunity to explore the historical tradition of writing dealing with new mediums, such as E-Books, and interacting with the new media of digital artwork. I would be very interested in seeing session here that would deal pedagogically with the future of writing. With the continued interest of e-books and the ability to create hyper-linked texts, both for fictional and scholarly texts, while the basic themes of writing won't change the delivery of the text to the reader will diversify and change.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

From blogger to bestselling author

From blogger to bestselling author

This article is interesting from at least 2 angles. the first is the activity of media in China. It is good to see how the internet does allow individuals to pursue the publishing of their own creative works. Also, it is interesting to see how intangible works published online are leading to published works. While ebooks are continuing to increase in popularity and books overall are not being pursued or read as much in the past decade, there is still a drive to publish physical books.
The second angle is the definition of the internet publishing medium as a karaoke bar. I'm not entirely sure if the quote from Liang is designed to equate the furor over internet publishing with the Chinese people's enjoyment of karaoke or if the publishing of works online is equal to a screechy, off-key rendition of "whoops, I did it again" while accompanied by an awkwardly canned track. Or is the quote attempting to infer that karaoke as an imitative form is comparable to posting one's thoughts or writings online. Is self-expression only found in imitation when self-publishing? "The largest proportion of literary manuscripts on the Internet is entertainment literature."(next to last paragraph) If what is being published is derived mainly from this proportion of online work then yes the internet is like a karaoke bar that publishers are striving to pull limited and imitative talent from while the true musicians are at the other end of the city rocking the dive bars.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Little Pieces of Los Angeles, Done His Way

Little Pieces of Los Angeles, Done His Way

for the record, a million little pieces is a brilliant work. forget for a second it is a "fabricated" memoir. as story it is fantastic, gripping and moving; the language and rhetorical devices employed are sparing and are used with care and focus. i read the second book my friend leonard . it's good as well though not quite as good as its predecessor. my appreciation of frey's work was not particularly affected by oprah's calling him out.
what really matters in a story is that what the writer writes is what happened. the story told is, for all intents and purposes, what indeed occurred. one of the best explanations of this is in the book the things they carried by Tim O'Brien.
hurrah for james frey and his new work!

Robert Rauschenberg, American Artist, Dies at 82

Robert Rauschenberg, American Artist, Dies at 82

while this is a quick overview of Rauschenberg's life I think it's interesting to notice the other names popping up here such as Cage, Pollack, Black Mountain College. Rauschenberg was probably at BMC while Wolpe was teaching there and very well may have interacted with him.
Raschenberg's death also emphasize the passing of the modernists, both their work and themselves. Their passing brings them back into memory and notice.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

music information retrieval (MIR)


onebiglibrary unconference
This is a brilliant idea hosted by York University in Toronto. York U also happens to be the place that Wolpe scholar Austin Clarkson is a professor emeritus.
"A conference where the content of the sessions is created and managed by the participants."

Saturday, May 3, 2008

my saturday morning

you may have noticed in the past two hours I've posted more to this blog than I have in the past two months. i'm currently sitting at work, where I've been for the past 2 hours, waiting for the servers to come back online from their new location. It was supposed to happen at 5am. It didn't. But I still got here at 5. The magic of the morning is steadily diminshing. I brought a coffee pot, grinder, whole beans and tablespoon to make some good coffee but I forgot filters so I had to use the company coffee pot which is grungy artifact of really bad coffee making years. Also the coffee pot that was left with it doesn't actually fit. Thus I managed to make the worst pot of coffee I've ever made. I'm currently sitting alone in the office which is rather strange. I did get caught up on most of my blog reading that i've missed as well as reading this morning NY Times. I've been trying to convince myself to do this, that is, get up early and read. The reading has almost made getting up this early worth it.

8:32 am
servers are up and servers are....down. awesome.
and the servers are up and holding steady.
waiting for hardware test to begin/finish; I've should stayed in bed. Was really thinking I would be out of here by 9am and out to the Doylestown Presbyterian Church for their, supposedly, sweet book sale. Hopefully will still make it. I do have a pretty sweet "ridiculously-early-morning-waiting-at-work" playlist going consisting of The National, both Boxer and Alligator, Pedro the Lion, Jacob Golden, Portishead, PatternisMovement, The Hold Steady, The New Pornographers, The Postal Service, Caribou, John Vanderslice, Rage Against the Machine, Zookeeper, Iron & Wine, Unwed Sailor and Thom Yorke. Eclectic and loud.
middle of making sure services are back on. dubservers still down therefore can't test anything ...and servers are down again

and up...

10:36 am
and done.

The book sale was awesome. I got there just as it was closing but they were gracious and let me scrounge. I gave them 5$ and they gave me a paper shopping bag. It was pretty scant pickings as I was looking to round out my collection of Grass and Vonnegut, none of whom were in evidence. It was also the last possible minutes of the sale so that might have had something to do with it. Among the good things that accompanied me home:
snow falling on cedars---guterson
short novels of thomas wolfe--wolfe
the crucible--miler (haven't read it yet)
Galatic Pot-Healer---Dick (according to the first couple pages the character can heal pots; you would pick it up too.)
Trojan Women---trans. Sartre
Mortal Coils---Huxley
The Promise---Potok (a really nice hardcover)
oh that old hotel--mitchell

Cuba lifts ban on home computers

Rivalry Played Out on Canvas and Page

Rivalry Played Out on Canvas and Page

this article is good for two reasons; this exhibition has works by DeKooning who was at the Bauhaus with Wolpe.
It makes fun of art critics. What else could you want?
The opening and closing sentences encapsulate the entire article in a sort of Schenkerian analysis. First sentence: "Art is long, art criticism is often very, very brief, its Internet afterlife notwithstanding. "
Last sentence "Neither critic was impressed but, as is so often the case, art went on without them."
It all gets reduced to Mozart in the end.

So It Goes

So It Goes

Can't tell you how excited I am about this book coming out. I've got a deep enjoyment and appreciation of Vonnegut's work. I've read most of it at this point. I was reading TimeQuake this week which is closer to being a collection of aphorisms rather than a story in the typical Vonnegutian vein. I read Man Without A Country, Vonnegut's last published work, last year and there are some definitive shared stories between the two. Sharing between stories is nothing new for Vonnegut I think it's one of the most enjoyable things of reading his works is the act of actively collecting the connections, based on characters, phrases, bird-calls, and seeing how those are reset, re-worked or re-introduced into new settings.
Vonnegut's work is also intriguing because it can be read, possibily to its own detriment, at two different levels. There is the first superficial level where the reader can simply collect the details of the story and work through the story as fiction without picking up any connections. Vonnegut has a very deceptive style postulated as easy to read but he hides rich detail and ideas within his works. This is the second level at which his works can be read. I had to read Man without a Country twice before I realized the almost minimalistic end-result of Vonnegut's writing is purposeful, developed and definitively not accidental.

The Kids Are All Noisy: British teens not welcome in libraries

The Kids Are All Noisy: British teens not welcome in libraries

One of the best quotes from this article in understanding how to approach teens in the library "...we should resist trying to force them to act like previous generations; that was then, and this is now." this is a crucial step to moving the library and library philosophy forward to reach out and embrace new technologies and new approached to pedagogy in information literacy. It's not forcing these next generations to act in the library or to approach the library as we or our parents did but to take the tools they are used to using and see how those tools can interact wityh and mold future ways of thinking about the purpose of the library and its future as its future is truly in the hands of these kids.

Higher Offer by Microsoft Brings Yahoo to Table

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Don't abandon hardbacks

Don't abandon hardbacks

The book continues to move from a
container of information/knowledge/art to a collector's item that is
worth more on a commodity level then what is actually written on the
pages. The experience of reading becomes relegated to collecting and
joy of ownership but for actual reading the electronic format is
starting to be more preferred. As technology continues to develop the
availability of e readers will continue to reduce the need/desire for
paperback editions. The focus on the hardbook back is also a continued
narrowing of an active reading community into a limited amount of
individuals who appreciate the hardbook version of a work but are also
willing to look for these works as well as pay for them.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Breeders' Scrappy 'Mountain Battle'

A God Who Remembers

A God Who Remembers

"What is a witness if not someone who has a tale to tell and lives
only with one haunting desire: to tell it. Without memory, there is no
culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no

After all, God is God because he remembers."

Friday, March 28, 2008

It’s Not You, It’s Your Books

It’s Not You, It’s Your Books

so not only are people treating books as furniture but they are also using books as dating standards. A couple of individuals in this article refer to people carrying books, as does the picture/caption for the article. I am not sure of the reason for this article as you could insert art; music; cooking etc. any other similar ideas. perhaps this is the nyt bookreview fluff piece but overall it's a bit awkward.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Millions of Jobs of a Different Collar

In Birmingham, Everyone Has Keys to the City

In Birmingham, Everyone Has Keys to the City

the utilitarian nature of music combining with the universality of music meeting the sculptured form of the upright to be sound canvas and artist's canvas while holding tune and reigning over street corner and chrsynathemums but slowing ever decaying just as the notes that are struck fall away

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Attracting Audiences With Intricacy

The Royalty Scam

The Royalty Scam

Bragg raises some interesting points but there's also an elephant in this article, namely, how is the value of these works and how should that be determined? Bragg also asks what the royalty radio stations play should not be extended to the Internet. I think that decision would fail. Even though what Bragg states here is already been discussed in terms of copyright and limiting even the RAM access to an article for online journals and ebooks etc., it would set a difficult precedent that would be almost impossible to maintain. Through the use of bitTorrents or other p2p systems once one person has the information it can be sent to everyone who wants it. I understand and appreciate the dilemma Bragg presents. As a musician myself and lover of music, it's a difficult situation to determine how to set value on these works. The problem is, as Bragg states that "the coporations and the kids...want the use of our [Bragg's] music without having to pay for it." since the corporations control the cash, it will be very difficult to get them to part with it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is Google God?

Is Google God?

This is an older interview with Douglas Coupland about his book JPod and his beard. I read it, the book not the beard, in B&N but if you would like to purchase it for me, I would be extremely grateful. If you would also like to introduce me to Coupland so that we could have a cup of coffee together that would be awesome.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Highlights from SXSW: R.E.M., Bon Iver, More

Highlights from SXSW: R.E.M., Bon Iver, More

Woohoo!!! I wish I was in Austin TX rocking the SXSW! maybe someday. Check it out.
Also NPR has a sweet podcast giving a very brief preview of the music. It was good; but I'll post it later becuase I can't find the address right now.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Charms of Wikipedia

The Charms of Wikipedia

If you can get past the somewhat smarmy tone of the first couple paragraphs this is a very good and interesting review. Especially noting that the majority of Wikipedia edits are made by the one percent of users; the power laws in effect!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Big Green Bookshop

One of my current favorite blogs to read is the Wood Green Bookshop Blog located here. It's unfortunately not in the US but in England and it documents the continued process of Simon and Tim establishing, painting and selling books. They haven't actually gotten to selling anything yet but one of them was at least holding a book in the store so I think that's progress. One of the main things I appreciate about this bookstore is the goal to be a community-integrated establishment. The bookstore involved the company from the beginning buy conduting a poll amont the area schools to determine what the bookstore should be named. see article 1stpage and 2ndpage I believe there is, or was, a second poll done to find out which the best font would be for the front of the book store.
I think what these two "blokes" are doing is a necessary attitude for libraries and librarians to take. It's not simply a matter of marekting yourself to be a part of the community just so people come to your establishment, it's necessary to take a legitimate interest in your community and express it in noticeable interactive ways. At the very least, the individual who came up with the bookstore gets serious bragging rights and probably some street cred. I'm not sure though; it might be different in England.