Archive for May 2010
Once again, I have enough clippings to make another list of books I want to read in the not so distant future.
- Via Boing Boing, the book is Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation." The book is also discussed in this AlterNet article.
- Via the Dirty Librarian, the following titles: Martin Rowson's F*ck: A History of the World in 65 Unfortunate Incidents; Ted Rall's The Year of Loving Dangerously; Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead series (it is up to 11 volumes now. Link to first volume here).
- Some ideas from the blog Blogging for a Good Book. Personally, I don't give a hoot about purists who debate the whole graphic novel definition, i.e. can you call it a graphic novel if it is not fiction, for instance? Way I see it, the term "graphic novel" pretty much defines what it is. You mention it, and people know what you are talking about regardless of whether it is comics or a memoir. Not need to get all retentive about it. Anyhow, the books suggested that I want to read: Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, Vlad the Impaler; the Man Who Was Dracula; Rick Geary's Trotsky: a Graphic Biography (see, you can just call it a graphic biography or whatever. What's the problem?); Michael Keller et.al. Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species: a Graphic Adaptation; Josh Neufeld's A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge; Mark Schultz, et.al. The Stuff of Life: a Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA. And by the way, this also reminds me that Jacobson and Colon also have Che: a Graphic Biography.
- Via John Scalzi's blog Whatever, Ellen Datlow's anthology Digital Domains: a Decade of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
- From the Urbana Free Library's blog, Luciano Canfora's The Vanished Library: a Wonder of the Ancient World.I wonder how it compares with Lionel Casson's Libraries in the Ancient World, which I have read. By the way, that blog seems to have a few other good suggestions; I may need to look it over later.
- Joe Sacco's Footnotes in Gaza. Reviewed here at Powell's Books blog.
- Tom Standage, one of my favorite authors, has a new book: An Edible History of Humanity. It is reviewed here in AlterNet.
- (Update note: 5/27/10). John Scalzi's edited anthology Metatropolis sounds pretty good. He posts about it here.
- (Update note: 5/27/10): Louise Levathes's When China Ruled the Seas. I actually read a little bit about eunuch admiral Zheng He when I read Liquid Jade (you can see my review if you go to my GoodReads page). The Levathes book is mentioned at Guys Lit Wire here.
Welcome to another edition in our semi-regular (read when I feel like it and have time) series Signs that the economy is bad. Since Blogger for some reason is refusing to publish the post (as in some technical glitch b.s.), we have moved our feature this week here to Alchemical Thoughts (I will put this link over there since deity knows what the fuck is the problem with Blogger. It published my other post just fine. Who knows?) Anyhow, this week we have a couple of education related items. So, without out further ado, see the stories below:
- Even those wanting to teach are having a hard time finding a job. Teaching was often the fallback job; if you could not get a job doing what you really wanted to do, you could always go teach was the saying. It's something I personally resent because teaching is not just something you pick up. I know; I was a public school teacher, and I actually got a degree to prove it. No cheap and quickie certification program for me. However, the conventional wisdom was that teaching in schools, as opposed to teaching college, was recession-proof. Things are so bad now that schools are cutting jobs left and right, thanks to funding cuts (at a time when we should be investing in education, but that is another story). Thus, it seems there is no teacher shortage, and this in a profession that has a very high turnover rate. "Teacher drop out rate: After 3 years, 1/3 of new teachers leave the field; after 5 years, almost half of those new teachers have left" (source. This is just one example. The issue of teacher attrition in the first years of teaching is pretty well known).
- Part of the reason schools have a hard time getting funding is the issue of using property taxes to fund them. For one, the tax is dependent on property values, which have taken major hits in this economy. Two, a lot of people do whine and complain about paying those taxes under the "I don't have kids, so why should I pay for someone else's kid" attitude. I will tell you why you should pay? Besides education being an investment in our futures, maybe it will keep little Johnny next door from becoming a career criminal and breaking into your house to feed his drug habit. So schools and communities have to find creative ways to supplement their funding. In Long Island, NY, strippers are actually rallying for a pole tax. You heard that right. These ladies are asking to be taxed so they can help fund their schools. How many people out there do you actually hear saying, "hey, I am willing to be taxed just a bit more so we can get a service that benefits us all?" Let me know when the crickets stop chirping. And if I was in Long Island, I'd consider dropping by.
- Employees are being asked to return money, a decade or so after the fact. This has to qualify as a low someplace. Read the details of what seems a clerical error, but is more like the county in question made the choice to "roll with the error," and are now having regrets. This is kind of cold to be honest, but hey, at least they give you options on how to pay it back.
- And you know things have to be bad when career placement agencies suggest to females that they should look for work in adult entertainment. The job centers in Great Britain in this story even provided job ads for at least one site. I have nothing personally against adult entertainment, but somehow advertising in a government run job agency does not seem right. Just has enough desperation feel to qualify as a sign that the economy is bad.
So, these are some of the points Mr. Brown made I found interesting:
- The idea of starting a company where the employees are friends. This is not an easy thing to do. Even in a small library environment, i.e. one with few workers, it is not always the case that they are friends. Heck, they are barely colleagues in some cases. Now, Brown says that you would want a company where the employees are friends because friendship is a short cut to play. This is because an environment where there is friendship can be one that provides a sense of safety and trust, and with those, then there is security to play and take risks.
- Playfulness helps us get to better solutions.
- Brown made a remark about first graders being able to do construction play (build things in class with blocks, etc.). I am not sure how accurate that is anymore given the awful testing climate schools have these days. It seems like play keeps getting removed from schools at earlier stages. And don't even get me started on the schools that minimize or eliminate recess. As the kids get older, the schools take away the things that are useful for constructing and creative play. Librarians barely keep a sense of play, and it seems that when they do, it is not exactly the most effective or constructive.
- Building quick prototypes gets material faster to clients/patrons. Role play comes into play as well, say for dealing with services.
- Play is not anarchy; it is that idea where I have issue then with some of my professional brethren, who think that pretty much anything goes for the sake of play. And yes, you should be able to play and experiment. But play does have some rules; watch kids playing: they often follow certain scripts even at their most creative. This is specially applicable in group play. The negotiation of the play rules is what leads to productive play in a group context.
- There are also rules of when to play. We transition (or need to learn to do so) in and out of play.
- "You can be a serious, professional adult, and, at times, be playful." Cool quote. And I like that he used the word professional given how the latest trend in librarianship seems to be questioning or putting down the idea that librarians are professionals (like this guy; but again, that is another conversation).