kmhess's blog

Can a Public Lib record TV shows and lend the DVD?

Just a couple days ago Blake and I were talking about goofy DRM schemes on crappy hardware, and Apple and ABC oblige by offering a 2 inch screen where you can rent ABC TV show episodes for $1.99 a day after they air. I guess technically you can connect the iPod Video to your TV, so its really not much different than Tivo. But Apple and ABC are absolutely right that people miss their favorite TV show and have no easy way to catch up unless they can find someone with a tape, or go on bittorrent. So it seems like this is a service that Libraries could have offered for years, but don't.

So...back to my question from the subject - other than cost, what prevents a public library from recording all the popular shows every night and loaning out the DVD the next day? Is this illegal?

Apparently, ABC thinks each show is worth $1.99, so if they couldn't do it for free, could the library just buy the shows through iTunes, burn on DVD and lend them out?

With MP3s, libraries are more comfortable loaning a player with the actual media. So could the library just buy a video iPod, get every episode of Lost and lend it out? (You can consider cost now. :)


I've been a daily NY Times reader for the past 4 years, although I only read the online version and I don't subscribe. I don't plan to pay money to read the editorials either, but I wish them the best.

One thing that absolutely facinates me about the Times is the 'correction' policy. About once a week in the editorial section, they publish corrections of incorrect data, things that no normal person would notice or care about, while ignoring sitations where their sources lie to them or the premise of entire articles is completely false. I think the 'Media Bias' (conservative or liberal) would also fall in this category. Here's a good example of one of their silly corrections: Correction - Lolita. Basically, they wrote "The United States Postal Service" rather than the "United States Post Office Department".

All newspapers get things wrong occasionally, but I'd like to see their attention to detail to extend to the facts in the rest of the paper, rather than just trivial asides. I think that would help slow the decline of journalism in this country more than anything else. I might actually *pay* for that newspaper.

Army Day Parade

A few weeks ago when I found out the Pentagon was going to 'celebrate' 9/11 with a parade and a Clint Black concert, I thought it seemed like an odd thing to do. I wondered how the nation reacted to Pearl Harbor - did they have a parade and a concert. Well...yes they did!

I searched the NY Times historical database and came up with a couple of interesting tidbits. First, the attacks were commemerated with public parades, but no public concerts (which I think was an idea that post-dated WWII). In the Apr 5, 1942 NY Times, there was a long article entitled "Biggest Army Day Parade Since 1919 Thrills the City" (note: the parade was on Apr 4, 1942). First sentence: "With heartfelt pride, admiration and respect, New York paid tribute to the new American Army of freedom and democracy yesterday afternoon as 1,000,000 persons turned out to pitness the largets military parade held here since General Pershing's victorious troops marched up Fifth Avenue after the first World War." In the Dec 7, 1942 Times there was an article entitled "Pearl Harbor Day finds nation sure of Japan's defeat: Time for Surprises is Past and America Is Taking the Offensive, Officials Note". On the first anniversary of the attacks, there was a parade of 10,000 people in Brooklyn and 2 days of observances throughout the country.

The second was a little more hard to define, because as the war went on, there wasn't any mention of an Army Day parade in 1943, 1944 or 1945. I also searched the Dec 7, 1943, 1944 and 1945 NY Times and there didn't seem to be any large stories about celebrations. I'm guessing the country was too busy fighting a war to celebrate. Perhaps censorship played a role, or didn't do my searches right in ProQuest.

Honestly, I don't know what this means, but I thought I'd share what I did. The Army Day story has quite a few nice pictures, one of which was a classic - a picture captioned "Little Girl, Big Button", with a girl holding an American flag and a big button with a picture of a Soldier, and the words, Our Hero, and God Bless America.

Hurricane Housing

Check out this huge list of people opening their homes to strangers

If people stranded in motels can get to a public library, they can probably find a house where they can stay for free.


Recently, I noticed on the internet that Yahoo! had bought this little company called Konfabulator. They are in the 'widget' business, which is similar to the wigity things you can get with OSX. They are different than normal applications - many will float above your desktop letting you see through to the icons below, most have funky graphics instead of boring boxes, such as the stopwatch I downloaded that looked like a old-timey stopwatch, complete with little buttons on the top.

My serious question is I have no idea why anyone would want this type of interface, and therefore why it even exists (or was even purchased by Yahoo!). I used a few (timers, stopwatch, weather, clock, a couple of games) and I came to the conclusion that this was silly. Maybe it makes more sense for mac users who are used to not using the lower third of their screen, but I always have my web browser maximized so I'm not sure why I want a bunch of stuff floating on the desktop that I can't see.

However, I know that it would be possible to create a konfabulator widget that could search a library OPAC. You could even take a nice picture of a card catalog and the user could flip through virtual cards. But why would you do that instead of just going to your web browser? Can anyone explain this phenomenon to me?

New Dr. Who & CBC

There is a new BBC show I'd actually like to watch, the new Dr. Who. And I hear that its avaliable in Canada or on regular BBC. Some people in the US are fortunate enough to live close enough to the border to get CBC either over the air on on cable. So my question is, if I could live in Seattle or Detroit or Buffalo and watch CBC, why can't I get it on my satelite? Or my local cable? Can I trade all of my news channels for CBC? I think its more than a fair trade.

I think BBC America is sort of the same idea, but they purposely pick shows they think will play well in the US rather than just show the BBC *IN* America. I was going to complain about BBC America, but they do explain themselves in their FAQ. Still, you'd think they would recognize a winner...

It looks like I'll have to arrange a tape-delayed form of Dr. Who watching via my Northwest contacts. I hope its worth the trouble.

The Old College Try: NY Times puzzle

Last summer the NY times did a 'mental decathlon' in honor of the Olympics, and I noticed this morning they posted a new puzzle, The Old College Try
It was a fun, but seemed easier than the decathlon; either a year of grad school has made me smarter or the puzzle was just easier (my money is on choice B).

Orphaned works weirdness...

I browsed LibraryTechtonics and came across a post about the Orphaned works comments at the U.S. Copyright Office, referring to some general 'weirdness' going on. You can take a look here

In the comment by the Illustrators's Partnership of America (don't click the link unless you want to hurt your eyes looking at unreadably small fonts), that apparently was spammed by a bunch of other people, labeled OW0660-Holland-Turner, there is this comment toward the bottom:

"The “orphaned� works currently under consideration by the Copyright Office include the
work of many artists now in the prime of their careers."

I thought an orphaned work was something that had no owner, or the owner couldn't be found. Neat trick to do that and be in the prime of your career. I also liked Jeff Scott's uninformed comments, but he's 'An Actual Artist who Creates Real Things', so maybe the Copyright office will listen to him!

Fun facts about Japan

In my cataloging class we are doing LC subject headings, and I'm trying to think what subject headings to use for this website:
Fun facts about Japan

Some good questions answered:

  • Why don’t Japanese ghosts have legs?
  • How come Japanese people slurp Japanese and Chinese noodles but not spaghetti?
  • Why is Japan is called 'Japan' in English, instead of Nippon or Nihon?

The Onion: Media outlet

I'm going to try not to comment on the premise of this story,
Rolling Stone refuses to run ad for Bible , but note the last paragraph:

Media outlets that agreed to carry the ad include Modern Bride, The Onion, and AOL, Lockhart said. AOL, like, is a unit of Time Warner.

Umm...the Onion specializes in fake news, i.e. fiction.

search engine ad campaign?

I was comparing the results of different search engines with the search term "hagiography" (an esoteric and easily misspelled word), and other than Google every search engine I tried has an ad for Questia connected to that search term.

There's really no reason to pay for Questia when your public library has access to everything it has, and its free. So how hard would it be for the ALA to start some sort of search engine ad campaign to just direct people to their public library when they do searches? I'm sure the search site already exists (i.e. this one ), it just needs a link. Is that so hard?

Maybe I thought of this because I broke down and joined the ALA the other day so I could get a discount on some books for school.

Digital Library Toolkit

I don't have time to read this paper right now, but, like Blake, I struggle with keeping found things found so I figure if I put it here I'll remember to read it someday...

Library software sales tips

According to my crack team of researchers, to be a successful ILS/OPAC salesperson you need to be:

  • Male

  • Nice personality. Blond highlights helpful.

  • Speak with a cool sounding accent. Double marks for Australian, mate.

  • MOST IMPORTANT: You have to buy lunch for the staff.

I think this pretty much sums up why open-source ILS systems aren't very popular - free software, but no free lunches.

Tom Friedman on Google

Yes, I read the Times, almost daily. It has its faults but its really the only decent newspaper left in the US.

Speaking of faults, I read this passage from Thomas "Imaginary Sources" Friedman's latest column and it made me chuckle:

Google is a wonderful tool. I spent time the other day Googling every variation I could of the words: "Yasir Arafat and Palestine and education." I couldn't come up with a single speech, or even full paragraph, in which Arafat laid out his vision for how Palestinians would educate their youth and nurture their talents. Maybe all his speeches on that subject were never translated from Arabic. Or maybe they just don't exist - because this was never his priority. His obsession was with Palestinian "land," not Palestinian "life." Google the words "Yasir Arafat and martyrdom and jihad," and the matches go on for pages.

Maybe Tom, maybe. Equating number of hits as proof of a theory is brilliant - why didn't I think of that?

Please, ring my doorbell

Today we were expecting an insurance adjuster to come by to inspect our basement and they apparently walked into our garage and knocked on the door to the laundry room, figured no one was home and left a note.

This is something I've never understood - there are many people who do not use the doorbell on the front door, and just knock. And apparently are people who don't like to use the front door.

Do they not understand that you can't hear them knocking, but you can hear the doorbell? Are there people who don't know how to use a doorbell? Is it considered impolite to use the doorbell? Maybe its a strange Midwest thing - its been bugging me for years.

I think I should start a blog dedicated to this subject.

Voter registration up; way up

In my reference class, I think someone asked 'what is the most popular reference question' and since the instructor and 80% of the students work in libraries they all said, 'today, it was: how can I register to vote?'.

Everytime I see some story about this poll or the other and their 'likely voters', I keep wonder how accurate it is at all if we have a huge increase in registration and turnout? Maybe I should start a pool guessing the percentage of eligible voter voting.

My guess: 75%.

Hello No Future

I found this site today, and I can't stop laughing. In case you were wondering, its 'monkey week' at
I recommend it for anyone with 'memo' fatigue.

My favorite so far - T-shirt with a panda, with a bandaid on its face, pushing a shopping cart with a British Flag - the captions:
'Hello No Future' and 'How is a feeling!'

Now thats some good engrish.

On Fear

I've been thinking about 'fear' for a few weeks. Fear is often used as an argument to promote a point of view. However, from a rhetorical point of view, appeals to fear are equivalent to an appeal to emotion, or pathos, which is inferior to an appeal to reason, or logos. Yet, for some reason, appeals to fear are very effective, especially in politics. So even though we should instinctively be very suspect of all arguments revolved on fear or emotion, instead we embrace them.

Examples of pathos are easy to find, because its incredibly overused. Here are a couple of examples. Shari Drew, the keynote speaker for the RNC convention, on gay marriage:

This escalating situation reminds me of a statement of a World War II journalist by the name of Dorothy Thompson who wrote for the Saturday Evening Post in Europe during the pre-World War II years when Hitler was building up his armies and starting to take ground. In an address she delivered in Toronto in 1941 she said this: “Before this epic is over, every living human being will have chosen. Every living human being will have lined up with Hitler or against him. Every living human being either will have opposed this onslaught or supported it, for if he tries to make no choice that in itself will be a choice. If he takes no side, he is on Hitler’s side. If he does not act, that is an act—for Hitler.�

May I take the liberty of reading this statement again and changing just a few words, applying it to what I fear we face today? “Before this era is over, every living human being will have chosen. Every living human being will have lined up in support of the family or against it. Every living human being will have either opposed the onslaught against the family or supported it, for if he tries to make no choice that in itself will be a choice. If we do not act in behalf of the family, that is itself an act of opposition to the family.�

At first it may seem a bit extreme to imply a comparison between the atrocities of Hitler and what is happening in terms of contemporary threats against the family—but maybe not. I just turned 50 years old, and I have never married. That was not my intention, and it has not been my choice. When someone asks me why I have never married, the simple and truthful answer is that nobody has ever asked me. Nonetheless, when I speak about the family, I have a deep, profound and abiding belief that the family is absolutely ordained of God, that it is part of His plan for His children, that marriage is supposed to be between a male and a female, and that children deserve to be born to and raised by two parents, father and mother. That is the ideal.

Or this passage from the Unity Statement of United for Peace and Justice, the umbrella group organizing tomorrow's largest protest at the RNC convention.

It is now clear the war on Iraq was the leading edge of a relentless drive for U.S. empire...This military strategy brutally reinforces the empire-building agenda of corporate globalization, which uses “free trade� policies to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a few by attacking labor and environmental protections, reducing governments’ control over their country’s economies, and slashing public services...

Emboldened by its military victory in Iraq, the Bush administration has warned Syria, Iran, Cuba, and North Korea that if they don’t comply with U.S. demands, they, too, could be subject to “pre-emptive war� and “regime change.�

If I don't oppose gay marriage, what is going to happen to my family? If I don't oppose free trade, what is going to happen to my job? I don't know, because this is all just fear and emotion, without any facts. To me, both not only don't convince me of their viewpoint, it makes me incredibly suspicious of what they have to say.

So If you've made it this far, don't comment on why I should oppose gay marriage or the corporatization of our government. This is just how I critically read things these days, both scholarly and in my leisure time, because logic and reason are supposed to win arguments, not emotion and fear.

Open-source Archival Software

On my schools bulletin boards I read about the Archivist's Toolkit, a project by the UCSD, NYU and the Five Colleges to develop an open-source software suite for archival management.

Apparently, the UCSD is the place to be for Digital Libraries. They haven't hired a lead developer for the project yet...I'd be perfect for the job in two years!

Detective Story Rules

One of the classes offered next semester is called Adult Popular Literature, and unfortunately I'm not taking it - sounds like a good class.

The syllabus links to a 76 year old article called Twenty Rules for writing detective stories.

Looking at the mystery novels I've read recently, by Laurie R. King (Mary Russell), Peter Tremayne (Sister Fidelma), Ian Rankin (Rebus), they all seem to violate every single rule in that list. Personally, I think the stories are so much more interesting with secret societies and a pair of detectives, not to mention an occasional romance.

However, I really like rule #1 - The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. Any book review of a mystery novel should really key in on that rule.

Note: one of the comments keys in on the rules as a bad way to learn writing. I wasn't trying to condone or condemn writing rules. The professor probably included it as a way to start a conversation about the mystery novel genre, and I thought I'd just pass it along - and thanks for the reading suggestions!

Syndicate content