Walt's blog

Two out of five: What a weekend!

Only a few people have ever seen my sad list of the five people I just can't deal with any more--four of whom I've never met (for which I'm grateful). I wish there was no such list, but you know, sometimes you realize that responding to certain people is beating your head against a stucco wall, and the bleeding isn't worth it.

Two of the five popped up at LISNews this weekend, both laying into me for one reason or another. One has added an obsession with how Cites & Insights should be produced, how detailed its table of contents should be, and other stuff, to his other set of obsessions--and doesn't quite seem to realize that the more he complains (repeating the same complaints over and over), the less likely I am to actually pay attention. Tossing in compliments about the content doesn't help. This is a prime example of not only looking a gift horse in the mouth but trying to kick its teeth in; it's really not appreciated.

The other...well, you know, once someone's called you a "hater" in their own weblog, there's really nowhere to go but out. The range of insults was amusing at one point but got tiresome pretty fast. I certainly don't mind disagreement (as I think the current issue demonstrates!), but I do get turned off by sheer nastiness.

What I can't for the life of me figure out is why these two so obviously grab onto Cites & Insights (spelled variously in their various rants) as soon as it comes out, given that they find it and me so variously unacceptable. Do some people just love looking for stuff to pick at, hate, disagree with? Even after they should be aware that they're not going to get a direct response from me, ever? Or, even more, that I'm likely to be persuaded by their hostility and repetition?

[OK, it could help persuade me to stop doing Cites & Insights altogether, which I'm sure would please one of the two--but then my stubborn streak kicks in...]

Oh well. It's Monday, the weekend was less productive than usual, and I'm grumpy. Never mind.

Psst...

The problem has been solved. See brief entry on Wednesday, July 28.

The so-called liberal media

The biggest newspaper in these parts is pretty regularly labeled as extreme-left (despite being owned by Hearst). But I've noticed something the past few months:

Every time there's any reporting on John Kerry's campaign, by the fifth or sixth paragraph there's always a "response" from some Bush or RNC flack. Always.

"OK," I thought, "they're making a point of providing balance."

Then I started reading the reports on Bush campaign speeches--and that's what they are, whether the taxpayers pay for them or not, when he's telling us what he's going to do the Next Four Years.

No "balance" quote. Nothing from the DNC or Kerry campaign.

Interesting behavior from the "liberal" media.

Gray literature: Any interest in COWLZ?

I'm just tossing this out to see if there's any hope of reviving an interesting but dormant effort. (LISNews has a bigger audience than Cites & Insights, although a smaller one--I assume--than American Libraries, where I've also discussed this.)

COWLZ, the Consortium/Coalition/Committee Of Web-based Library Zines and newsletters, was an effort to follow up Marylaine Block's Ex Libris essay,
"Who's going to preserve zine content?"

I commented on it in Cites & Insights in May 2002, October 2002 and probably elsewhere (those are the only major essays that jump out from the Contents list).

A somewhat closed Topica discussion list drew a dozen or so zine/newsletter publishers and some very helpful people--Dan Lester, who provided disk space for a COWLZ archive (which also serves as the home for Cites & Insights) and Eric Lease Morgan, who put together a database and dark-archive harvest mechanism for the effort, among them.

And that's been about it.

I'm not sure that this is a call for renewed effort and excitement. Maybe it's just a recognition that we're all busy people and that the effort wasn't going to achieve the kind of recognition/publicity/etc. that was hoped for.

Comments welcome. If there are people who think there's still something there, maybe COWLZ could start up again. Maybe not.

Firefox bookmark-icons

Here's an oddity, maybe even an excuse for someone much more hip to internet code to show off their stuff.

If you've used Firefox (or, I assume, some other Mozilla/Netscape variants), you've probably noticed that some bookmark rectangles (the folded-corner page where you click, left of the name) get replaced by mini-icons when you first visit the site. Wired News turns into a little W on a red background, LISNews a big L with little IS tucked inside it, Bloglines a capital B, and so on.

I'm impressed by the creativity involved in crafting recognizable letters/pictures in the tiny number of pixels apparently available for these bookmark/icons.

Today, suddenly, it got interesting. I was asked for a publicity photo, so, naturally, went to my website to provide the exact address. And, to my considerable surprise, I now have a tiny Netscape icon (at least that's what I think it is) in place of the standard page. The same thing happened with Consumer WebWatch--but nowhere else. Including Cites & Insights.

Neither site has fancy HTML (putting it mildly). I can't imagine how the "Walt Crawford" site is picking up a Netscape icon.

And the icon seems to come and go, which is even stranger.

Any suggestions?

[Yes, I do use Firefox, except for two sites that absolutely require IE.)

Flag burning

One of LISNews' illustrious posters, in commenting on book burning, threw in a question as to whether we supported a Constitutional amendment to ban flag burning.

I didn't respond there because the question was so off-topic.

I find the question interesting because, as far as I know, the only approved way to dispose of a worn-out or damaged U.S. flag is to burn it. Anything else is considered inappropriate.

So would a Constitutional amendment be phrased such that you were a criminal if it could be proved that the flag you burned was not sufficiently worn to be ready for burning, but OK if it was?

In practice, I would say that anyone who burns a flag as a form of political protest--something that's happened very rarely--is asserting that the flag has been metaphorically soiled by what they're protesting against. I might not agree--I think burning a flag is a stupid way to protest much of anything, just as I think burning books is a stupid way to protest much of anything--but there it is.

Or is this another attempt to equate love of country with love of a particular piece of cloth, and to make any form of protest that could conceivably be seen as denying that love a crime?

Followup (now there's a great subject heading)

As a result of an earlier ill-written journal entry, I have added a couple of blogs to my Bloglines account, and have found the results interesting. Thanks to those who suggested them.

I haven't added any LISNews journals because I come directly to LISNews, and check recent postings directly here. Not to start another argument, but I have to say that I find most of the journal entries of mdoneil, ChuckB, Bibliofuture, and kctipton--THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST!--thoughtful and thought-provoking. (Yes, there are others, but those four come immediately to mind.)

For that matter, I'm getting rid of my "foe" flags in all but one case (and that one has absolutely nothing to do with politics and everything to do with obsession--the "foe" now posts anonymously-but-transparently anyway). Heck, I read the comments anyway, and conclude that pre-labeling the posters is not a way to keep a semi-open mind.

Bwahahah...

Sorry about that, Blake. Seems to me there are at least 20 journals here more interesting than my infrequent, erratic posts... but who am I to argue with results?

I figure people check to see whether I'll succeed in starting yet another "controversy" through use of even sloppier language and thinking than in Cites & Insights. And by the time they find out that I haven't started another flamewar, it's too late.

Quick non-program Orlando notes

I'm back in the moderately-warm, low-humidity Silicon Valley. I might have comments about programs and encounters at ALA Annual later (here or elsewhere), or I might not. Meanwhile, a quick personal note about the site.

No disrespect to south Floridians, but blecch. At least as an ALA site. I was expecting the heat (which I like) and the humidity (which, combined with the heat, left me feeling 80 years old after ten minutes outside). Those I could deal with.

I wasn't expecting the sheer distances, pedestrian hostility, and general inconvenience of getting from one place to another--and the lack of anything like a "downtown core" in the whole conference area.

I think the conference arrangements people did the best they could with shuttles, and Gale must have spent a fortune on the busses, what with nine different routes. But at most conferences, you don't need shuttles for most programs if you're willing to walk 15-20 minutes. Here--well, unless the session was in the CC or at the Peabody, Rosen Centre, or Rosen Plaza (and you could remember which Rosen was which), you were in trouble.

I wound up doing a geosliced schedule: Except for mandatory events, I dropped those that weren't at one of those four sites. The same thing happened with Miami/Miami Beach. I don't think Orlando was quite as inconvenient as Miami. But it sure wasn't convenient--and, until last weekend, I'd never thought about the extent to which most ALA sites (Midwinter and Annual alike) really are fairly pedestrian-friendly.

That being said, it was a worthwhile conference. I missed the big social events (Scholarship Bash, both the F911 showing and the new Disney "everything's wonderful in America" movie showing that nobody mentions, but that was well-publicized and actually free, etc.) but managed all of the exhibits, some receptions, the program I was part of, and two or three other programmatic sessions. And, as usual, ran into a few hundred friends and acquaintances I only see twice a year.

One other thing: I don't get targeted ALA exhibitor mailings since I'm not a likely buyer (not being in a library, and all that). But I got more exhibitor mailings this year than I can remember in the past decade or more--seemed like half our mail on some days was postcards and flyers for ALA exhibitors. Unfortunately, half a dozen of them arrived way too late to do any good--including two that arrived yesterday!

and now for something completely different

I'm sure someone will find this controversial, but here goes anyway.

The land hereabouts used to be orchards. While it's pretty much all housing (7,000sf lots typical) now, and absurdly expensive, the land itself is still high-quality. Not as good as where I grew up, maybe, but good.

We haven't planted trees (we've only been in this house for six years), but when we got here, there was one Meyer lemon tree in the back yard--and, across the back fence, an apricot tree with lots of limbs overhanging our yard. We don't use pesticides or much of anything else; we know our neighbors-to-the-back don't either.

For the last couple of years, we've been supplying work with Meyer lemons during prime ripening season--picking, rinsing, and bringing in 50-90 lemons a week for five-eight weeks. (We keep a few for our own use, but neither of us use lemons much.) If you don't know Meyer lemons--well, they're the big, relatively sweet, highly flavorful lemons that make supermarket lemons look and taste like travesties. Unfortunately, they don't ship well, and when you do see them in markets, they're likely to cost $1 each or more. (High-class restaurants love them for desserts, where the pies, tarts, etc. are always identified as Meyer lemon whatever.) In our microclimate, parts of Mountain View and Los Altos, it's notoriously true that one established Meyer lemon tree will produce hundreds, maybe more than a thousand, high-quality lemons.

More directly to the non-point, this year our neighbor's apricot tree was highly productive, and my wife's been picking some of the apricots on our side of the fence (observing that the neighbor just lets them fall). I've been having two with breakfast each morning this week.

Fresh apricots--ripe apricots, off the tree--are one of the greatest fruits around. As far as I know, it's just not possible to buy decent apricots in a store: To ship at all, they have to be picked too green, and never ripen properly. I grew up with fresh apricots (in Modesto, you grow up with fresh everything!), and I'd just given up on eating them... until this week.

Makes it hard to fly to Orlando, missing not only a few days of wonderful apricots but the return of Bing cherries (another guilty pleasure, but one that does ship).

Mea culpa

Good grief. I apologize profoundly for the previous journal entry. I should really know better.

Although it has been educational. Greater minds than mine have told me:

What I know and don't know, e.g., about who has weblogs (They're psychic!) (And they presumably know which weblogs I already do and don't read.)

What matters and what's irrelevant.

That I don't know much about conservatives.

Guess I'll just go on my ignorant way. Albeit with one weblog added to my aggregator.

Weblogs of thoughtful conservative librarians?

Rory: I am not suggesting any change in LISNews policy. This post has nothing to do with LISNews.

If people have thoughtful conservative-librarian weblogs to suggest, I'll add them to my personal Bloglines list, nothing to do with LISNews or anyone else, at least for a while.

"Thoughtful" equals, at a minimum:
Being able to differentiate between liberal and socialist
Being able to distinguish between the commons and socialism
Being able to distinguish constitutional conservatives from neocons.

This isn't a hypothetical. There are (in my opinion) a fair number of thoughtful conservative comments at LISNews, along with some that don't deserve the adjective. I wouldn't mind keeping track of what some of the former have to say on their own sites.

Two in 12 days? What's wrong here?

So you'll see in the stories (assuming someone else approves it--I may have "author" status but I won't approve my own postings on C&I) that the promised pre-Annual Conference Cites & Insights (July 2004, volume 4, issue 9) is out, actually three days earlier than the planned June 21 pub date.

That's 11 days after the special Mid-June issue.

How can I square this with previous journal entries about being overrun by real-world events?

Simple: Panic.

Not really--but sort of. The family matters did chew up one weekend and a fair amount of other time--but they also got me into a mode of fitting C&I work into spare hours here and there. I pushed to make sure I'd have time to get things done.

Then two other things--maybe, actually, one other thing--happened. After the tooth came out, I haven't had the "sinusy" headaches--and, in the week that's followed, several sections came together a lot faster than I'd expected.

I'm sure the editing is as atrocious as usual, for which I apologize: It really is hard to edit your own stuff.

Now, back to "paid projects" before and after ALA. I'm targeting the August issue for late July, no earlier than July 23. Given that some themes should slow down during the summer, I think that's reasonable--but there are always surprises.

Dressing down in Orlando

Last time ALA Annual was in New Orleans, someone at headquarters did a smart thing: They suggested, through a variety of means, that we all dress down for the occasion--shuck those coats & ties in the heat and humidity of the Big Easy.

It worked pretty well. Of course, some folks would never be seen at a conference in less than a three-piece suit and perfectly coordinated tie & shirt, and some exhibitors would be violating sacred dress codes to even consider such a thing, but for some of us (who don't wear coats & ties at work, but usually do when at a conference), it was liberating.

I haven't seen any such effort for Orlando. It's going to be hot and humid there, too--probably a little hotter than Nawlins, from what I'm seeing.

Last time I spoke at Florida Library Association, in Orlando, they not only discouraged overdressing, they had the Dress Code Squad: Wear a tie, pay a buck to their scholarship fund. (I had some fun with it at the opening keynote--started out the talk in a proper coat & tie, was interrupted by a whistle blast from the Dress Squad, paid the buck, then peeled off the coat, tie, and dress shirt, continuing the keynote in the tropical shirt underneath. And, of course, wore tropical shirts for the rest of the conference.)

So, since nobody's done it formally, I'm doing it informally, at least for some of us:
Open collars in Orlando!

I'm not even taking ties. Short-sleeved shirts, tropical shirts, whatever: That's the ticket.

When life intrudes

Sometimes the vicissitudes of real life intrude more than you'd like--but that's what makes it real.

Last week was pretty much a washout because of such vicissitudes--and, looking back, I think the last few weeks have been affected.

That latter first: I had a tooth extracted last Thursday afternoon, and should have had that done a month or more ago. (My dentist said to set it up when I returned from a speaking trip; that was in March.) Constant headaches/sinus problems the last few weeks finally got me to call; after I made the appointment, naturally, they got worse. So if I've been blunter and even less coherent than usual the past few weeks, there's an excuse. (Now, how that resulted in the "Catching Up on Copyright" issue of Cites & Insights, which has gotten kind comments, is one of those mysteries...and, actually, I was more productive than usual at work...until last week.)

Last week added a second flavor: A death in the family. Not unexpected, not tragic, but nonetheless involving three lost days last week--one of them, the most exhausting, the day after the tooth extraction. (The surgery may go well, but it still takes a lot out of you!)

Things begin to return to what passes for normal around here. Prepping for ALA becomes a bit more urgent. Keeping up with massive changes hereabouts is strange. Such is, well, life.

Relevance to LISNews: Minimal, except for any blunter-than-usual comments I've left. None of which I'm likely to withdraw or apologize for.

Cites & Insights donations now activated

Thanks to your comments and others, I've made one plunge: PayPal and Amazon Honors System are both now available if you'd like to donate to help support Cites & Insights


Donations are entirely voluntary--and I think they're generally anonymous as well. (This is all new to me.)


I would still greatly appreciate opinions on possible value-added services, specifically:


Bound volumes: Perfect-bound paperbacks, cream book paper (8.5x11), color covers, containing the entire contents of one volume including title page and index. Probably around $30.


Thematic volumes: Perfect-bound paperbacks, cream 5x8 book paper, color covers, probably 150-200 pages each, containing a series of related essays from Cites & Insights--or, for that matter, from "The Crawford Files", "disContent," earlier stuff, or a combination of all of those--with updates, annotations, and proper indexing. Probably around $25-$30.


Tchotchkes if anyone really wants them--the kind of stuff Cafe Press does.

Only in California/San Francisco

Yesterday: Long story in the paper about this year's high-profile murder case, relating the desire of the victim to raise her family in "small-town" Modesto. The same article called Modesto a "town" elsewhere, noting its population of a few years ago (188,000) in the same sentence. (Population is now 202,000.)

Where but in California could a place of 202,000 population, not in any sense a suburb, be called a town--much less a "small town"?

Today: OK, everybody has cross-dressers or drag queens. But how many places have pageants for "faux queens"? That's right: An event centered on...
women who dress up as men dressing up as women.

You gotta love it.

Relevance to libraries: None.

But here's an extra trivia question for people outside Northern California: What's the largest city in Northern California?

Ohio State's "technology for the rest of us" seminars

Just a quick note, because I may or may not get around to writing this up elsewhere:

I spent last week at Ohio State University (or getting there and back), participating in three of four days of a remarkably well-designed and worthwhile event, "Technology for the rest of us: What every librarian should understand about the technologies that affect us."

Each day offered two two-hour sessions, one from 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., the second from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Continental breakfast was available before the first talk (which was preceded by a few minutes of welcoming comments).

Monday--which I missed--featured Robert E. Molyneux (NCLIS) on networking and Bill Drew on wireless networking. I'm informed that both did a great job. (Had dinner with Bill and a few OSU people Monday evening; first time I've met him F2F, I believe)

Tuesday, I talked about OpenURL in the morning; Thomas J. Lynch, III (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) discussed Internet2 in the afternoon. My presentation was my first use of PowerPoint (outside RLG) in five years, was more work than any speech I've done in years, offered something I'm apparently uniquely qualified to do (a middle section showing 20 variations on how libraries use OpenURL), and was great fun to do. I'd love to do something similar elsewhere...

Wednesdy had Peter Murray (U. Connecticut) on security and Ron Gilmour (U. Tennessee) on XML.

Thursday had Sarah Shreeves (U. Illinois Urbana-Champaign) on the Open Archives Initiative Protocol and, in the afternoon, MacKenzie Smith (MIT) and Charly Bauer (OhioLINK) on institutional repositories.

I went to make a presentation. I stayed because I thought I could learn some things. I was right: The presentations were enormously informative. The timing and balance were such that I--and I think the 100-odd librarians who attended--had time to let material sink in and gain insights without being overwhelmed.

A first-rate event, one that might usefully be emulated (with a LOT of effort!) elsewhere.

I believe most presentations are or will be available at the conference website.

Feedback Desired, and Notice of Absence

Here's where I really would like comments--but don't expect a response until May 28 or later, because I'll be Internet-free until then.
(That's also true if you send email to my usual email addresses regarding this stuff: Expect delayed response.)

Specifically: If you read Cites & Insights and want to see it continue, which of these possible means of support would interest you?

  • Donation: You might make a PayPal donation.
  • Volumes as Books: You or your library might pay $30-$35 or so for full volumes, 8.5x11, with index, in perfect-bound print form (via a publish-on-demand service).
  • Value-added Books: You or your library might pay $25-$35 (depending on length) for 5x8 perfect-bound books consisting of copy from Cites & Insights gathered thematically or in other meaningful ways, with introductions and updates as appropriate.
  • Tchotchkes: You might buy caps, coffee mugs, or other nonsense with appropriate logos and stuff.

    The published query included the possibility of paid separate-article-in-HTML posting, but I think that's really improbable. Sponsorship is still possible, if unlikely.

    Feel free to reply here if that's easier than sending me email at [name] wcc [domain] notes.rlg.org.

  • With fear and loathing...

    I'm still not ready for a weblog, but playing around with a "weblog lite" might make sense.

    Don't expect loads of postings, and for sure don't expect the stuff you'd find in Cites & Insights. If that's an experiment (still, after 4.5 years), this is really experimental.

    For starters, an apology: I used Rightwing Coven (or Rightwing Cabal, or RC something) within an extended set of comments elsewhere on this august site. It was an unfortunate shorthand. I did not mean to include all those at LISNews who are either to my right politically or actual "conservatives" (in quotes, because a lot of today's conservatives would give fits to constitutional conservatives like Barry Goldwater).

    I really meant a certain quartet that I now think of as Dopey, Grumpy, Grouchy, and the Ghost of David Burt. And I'm not sure the term was warranted even for that group.

    Of course, as a devoted Buffy fan, I should also apologize for another reason: "Coven" is an appropriate name for a group of Wiccans, I assume, and I shouldn't insult those groups.

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