Friday, March 30, 2012

"Thanks, but no, thanks." What the Rich never say when given the chance to name something.

Not that it matters to you, but the City of West Palm Beach Public Library recently traded its identity to the Mandel Foundation for $5 million.

But here's why it should matter to you:

I oppose any selling of public libraries to for-profit or non-profit entities when that sale requires the library to change its name.

The (former) City library has about a $3,900,000 budget for 2012. So that $5 million donation covers a little over a year of taxpayer money. I mean, city taxpayers cough up $4 million each year, yet they don't get to keep the name of their library. Someone offers one million more and he gets the library. (But maybe I'm reading the budget wrong; "Report Totals $3,888,274". That could be for something else. I'm not good with numbers.)

If you believe that public libraries exist as a part of the community, as physical and cultural landmarks that support and represent the local residents, then you should get a little pissed off when someone with a big bag of money swoops in and steals that local ownership.
"The West Palm Beach Library Foundation, which seeks grants and large donations for the library, is offering library naming rights.
The library can be named in your honor for a $5 million donation. For half that amount, the children's library on the third floor can bear your name.
For as low as $10,000, you can name the foundation office, staff lounge, study rooms or assistant director's office, with plenty of naming rights available for various donation levels."
--- from somewhere, google it.

No, this isn't a joke. I might cough up the 10k just so I can name the staff lounge, "Get Your Lazy Ass Back to Work."
"The gift to the West Palm Beach Library Foundation will be awarded in the form of a grant, ... With this significant and notable gift, the West Palm Beach Library will be renamed in perpetuity, as the 'Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach'."
--- somewhere else.


Gift = no obligation.
So this is not a gift.

And maybe you've heard, but the New York Public Library has become the Stephen A. Schwarzman Library. Because a rich guy named Stephen A. Schwarzman had a spare $100 million burning a hole in his pocket. And all the hospitals were already taken.

Money is only paper, but a book is the soul. Or paper, too. I just made that up, so the concept is still a little fuzzy.

I don't know anything about Schwarzman; he could be a nice guy. He could be an obsessive My Little Pony collector, or eats spaghetti with his fingers, or a bad tipper. I don't know, but it doesn't matter. His name does not belong on the library.

What if the library got one of these different sponsors?
  1. The Lysol Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner Public Library.
  2. The I'm Lovin' It, McDonald's McCafe and Public Library.
  3. The Halliburton Energy Services Group Petroleum and Natural Gas Earth-raping Public Library.
  4. The RealTouch Teledildonics Remote Sex Hook-up Public Library.
  5. The Tea Party Public Library... Is Closed to Illegals Public Library.
I don't even know if anyone would have protested any of these changes if the alternative meant higher taxes. "Teledildonics? That's them remote-control vaginers? That's okay."

Where are the rich individuals who want to help out without taking credit? Why did they need to change the name of the library? And how much is this going to cost?

The (former) West Palm Beach Public Library has about 100,000 cardholders. So they need to replace those cards with ones with the new name? What is that, about fifty cents each? What else do they need to replace? Everything?

The (former) West Palm Beach Public Library owns the domain, which I guess is now worthless to them. They also own which is now just a joke since the library is NOT your city library, but the Mandel Library That Your Taxes Pay to Support.

Really, why can't some rich person Just Say No? Say, "Here is some money. Maybe you can put a little plaque over here on the wall by the restrooms. But no pressure. I just want to help."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


So we're catching up on Downton Abbey and trying to spot the verbal anachronisms. Like I would know, or care. But the idea that anyone is doing it by comparing what is said on the show with what has been recorded in print during the period just shows how screwed up the present is going to be for the future when today's cultural fads change from moment to moment.

Who knows what people actually said to each other in 1912? It's not like we have YeTube videos from the year 600 AD or even from the early 1900's. We can only guess from what was recorded in books and surviving serial publications.

So we can make guesses from surviving records. But what do we know?

So, for some dumb reason, I had this idea to pretend that there was some recently discovered apocryphal scrap of text attributed to the time of The Old Testament that contained a list of Yo Momma jokes.

Don't ask why I think this if funny or ever worth your time, but here they are, The Old Testament Yo Momma jokes:
  • Yo Momma is so fat that when God created the Heavens and the Earth, the Earth revolved around her.
  • Yo Momma is so fat that when Adam and Eve ate the apple it was because that was the only food left (after yo momma visited The Garden of Eden).
  • Yo Momma is so fat that she was the ninth Plague of Egypt. Which was total darkness from her big ass hiding the sun.
  • Yo Momma is so fat that when she sits around the Mount Sinai, she sits around Mount Sinai.
  • Yo Momma is so fat that one of her Cannonballs parted the Red Sea.
  • Yo Momma is so fat that when Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt, yo momma crushed her up for her french fries.
  • Yo Momma is so fat that when Noah gathered two of each of the animals, she thought they were the buffet on the cruise and ate them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Librarian in Blackface.

There are times when I question the whole notion of the librarian as a professional. I don't know about you, but I went to library school to learn how to be a librarian. And before that, I went to a decent college and learned stuff to make me smarter than other people who didn't go to a decent college. People who had knowledge presented some of it to me and I may or may not have built on it to form new knowledge. But I think I did.

But our profession is filled with assholes who think we should only do what our community wants us to do. When this happens, you know you're on a downward spiral from civilization into chaos. If libraries were originally thought up as community centers then they would have just been gambling halls and minstrel shows. Because that's what the people wanted 150 years ago. And today I would be sitting at the desk in blackface and rolling dice and taking all your money. Because that's what America was 150 years ago and the libraries would have reflected their communities. And don't even think there could have been a civil rights movement if libraries didn't have books.

The whole notion of a public library was because some rich person or group wanted the local population to have common sense and common understanding and common knowledge. In every single imagined concept of the public library you will find the goal of an educated public.

So the idea that I would go to college for five years just so I can do whatever the people say to do is counter to any idea of professionalism. I say the library needs books on math and you say you want books on tarot card reading, and guess, what, we compromise and buy one of each. And that's why your kids can't find a job outside of a carnival.

Several years ago we had a similar crisis to the one now. There was an asshole on television who played his infomercials about all the shit he claimed "THEY" didn't want you to know. And because he had been in jail for so much other stuff he'd done to rip off people in the past, he was told that the only legal thing he had left was to sell books. NOW librarians knew this guy was full of shit, but we bought the books anyway because our patrons asked for them. And we learned which of our patrons were the stupidest because the only way you could hear about these books was from the infomercial; and only the dumbest of the dumb actually watch infomercials... for any reason other than the comedic value. But this is our community.

And now we are suffering through the Downloadables Dilemma. This is when a book becomes popular as a download and is then released as a print book so libraries are compelled by their patrons to buy it. I think publishers only do this because they know that libraries won't buy the ebook, but will purchase the title in print.

So this piece of shit gets popular, and today, it appears to be be the Lady Smut genre that we seem to be battling. These are novels with below mediocre writing, but filled with sex and brand name products and easy to read in a few hours. If you call that reading. I guess it would be something like this,
"Ka$h.Aah held her gaze on Jayden19's stiffened cock poking through his Armani silk boxers. What a big boy you are.

"This isn't for you now, Ka$h.Aah, Jayden19 growled as he poured her another glass of Cristal. I'm just teasing you until you beg for it."
Trust me, there's a Ka$h.Aah and Jayden19 out there in a book somewhere.

But this is shit. It's not as bad as what's really out there because I'm an awesome writer, but this is SHIT. And libraries are buying it because so many people are asking for this, it must be good.

These titles are never reviewed in our standard journals, but they have huge buzz online. And sometimes even make the legitimate print and TV news. But not reviewed by any source we've been trained to use for evaluating potential library purchases. But maybe my writing is just too darn good. Here are a couple of near examples as I can remember them from a couple of online stores:

Example 1:
"The helicopter is on standby should you change your mind."
The helicopter is on standby? What the fuck does that even mean? That sounds like something that you'd imagine a rich person might say when you have absolutely no idea what a rich person might say. Either you own a helicopter or you don't. And you either employ a pilot or you don't. Saying you have a helicopter on standby is redundant and patently artificial. Whatever suspension of disbelief you have attempted to construct, has just blown itself apart. What does the character say next? "Raymond, take the helicopter off standby and put in the place where we put all the other helicopters. Because I am rich. And then you may swim home. Because this is my private island. Because I am rich."

You think I'm being overly critical by judging just one short sentence against the whole novel. NO. Trust me. I read about a page and that was more than enough. It's like Name That Tune. I can spot shit, Alex, in ten words or less.

Example 2 (from a different book of shit):
"He ripped off his shirt in a forceful manner exposing his muscular chest and threw down his shirt."
This is just fundamentally poor writing. Doesn't this writer know about pronouns? Adverbs? This is the writing of someone who has watched a lot of soap operas. This is the literary equivalent of a rejected Penthouse Letter that reads, "I done masheded her boobyballs with my kung fu grip like they was a Stretch Armstrong doll."

Now, can't you understand how painful the example above is for me to read? Unless you like the word, boobyballs.

But we will buy this crap. Because you ask for it. And we librarians don't have the cojones to say NO.

But will this stop here? How many things will librarians say we need to offer to our patrons to remain relevant? Now it's ebooks. Tomorrow it will be free streaming HD video of current movies that will cost the library $100,000 a year. And we'll spend it and cut the magazine and newspaper budget to $0.

If you surveyed your library users for what they really want, they'd probably say they want a ride home. Does your library loan cars? Or maybe they want to call their family in Bogota. Do you lend cell phones or offer free long-distance calls in your library, maybe give out headsets so everyone can Skype? Do you loan out computer software like Photoshop or Microsoft Office? Are you a software pirate?

If your policy is to give the people what they want without any checks and balances for quality or usefulness or reliability then how it is that you still have a job? Anyone can buy what they're told to buy, to spend money how they are told to spend it.

I went to library school to learn how to select and preserve and educate. I didn't go to college to learn to keep folks entertained. And if you're not offended by the idea of a librarian in blackface, you should be offended by the idea that you went to college to learn to do what you're told.

NOTE: Librarian in Blackface has nothing in common with the Librarian in Black. It's just a coincidence that their names sound similar. I would have changed to title to something else to avoid the confusion, but nothing else seemed as funny.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pinterest: the anti-Facebook

If Facebook is Who We Are, then Pinterest is Who We Wish to Be.

If Facebook is the photo of you vomiting at Flannigan's-O'houlihan's Pub last St. Pat's, then Pinterest is the fresh white linen napkin you didn't wipe your chin with.

But, Wait, you say. Facebook can be a fresh white linen napkin, too.

If Facebook is the fresh linen napkin, then it's a fresh linen napkin artfully folded to represent your genitalia. Like Pornogami (yes, that's a real thing).

But what everyone says about Pinterest is that it's how we would like to view our lives. It's photos of all the beautiful things we want, or would want if only we weren't the idiots we seem to be on Facebook.

It used to be that the virtual world was the place where we pretended to be someone else. Remember that "on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog"? Well, then came social media and Facebook, and we just stopped pretending to be something else and just showed the world who we truly are. And it was embarrassing. But now Pinterest is here to put everything back in perfect order and beauty.

So when you're looking to impress someone, show them your Pinterest boards filled with diamond brooches and solid oak étagères and lace duvet covers and gold Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces. And make damn sure they don't find your Facebook.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

ebooks as a commodity. yes, like pork bellies.

For those of you who walk everywhere and get their nutrition from sunlight and are naked, you may not be aware of what Commodities are and how they affect EVERY FUCKING INFINITESIMAL ASPECT OF YOUR LIVES, here is a brief explanation: Rich People Suck.

If you're unfamiliar with the Commodities market, it covers all the items one needs to live. What occurs in the market is that if you want to live a long, healthy, productive life, then prices for these commodities will go up. If you want to suffer and die in pain and horror, then prices also go up.

Commodities cover your basic resources such as iron ore, crude oil, coal, salt, sugar, coffee beans, soybeans, aluminum, copper, rice, wheat, gold, silver, palladium, platinum, cotton, orange juice, cocoa, sugar, wheat, corn, barley, pork bellies, milk, feedstuffs, fruits, vegetables, other grains, other beans, hay, other livestock, meats, poultry, and eggs.

Commodities are basically a way for the rich to profit from consumer demand. Unlike getting a Nickelback tee-shirt on clearance because nobody wanted to buy it at regular price, the price of cotton goes up simply because the shirt was produced. Damn you, Nickelback! (I don't know anything about Nickelback; I've just heard that you, the internet, don't like them. -- Okay, I just did a search and I have heard of them.. I've heard the song Never Again.)

So long as the population on the planet grows, demand will increase, and prices will rise. You don't really need to understand more than that.

So is it any surprise that Random House is attempting to also make ebooks into a commodity?

Read this:
"We believe that pricing to libraries must account for the higher value... Therefore, Random House believes it has greater value, and should be priced accordingly."

And this, "We are requesting data that libraries can share about their patrons’ borrowing patterns that over time will better enable us to establish mutually workable pricing levels that will best serve the overall e-book ecosystem.”
(click for source)

That sounds to me like Random House wants to price ebooks according to demand and not based on the average price of an ebook or what it costs to produce it. In fact, in every other instance of retail sales, increased demand sparks greater discounts. The latest bestsellers get up to 40% off, DVDs are on sale the week they come out, etc.

Ebooks are not Gold, but Random House seems to think they should be.

And they expect libraries to tell them which books we want them to charge us the most for... They're pretty much saying that they know that $100 for an ebook is too much, and they want libraries to turn over all the lending data so they can reduce the price to $79.99. And thus, make libraries a partner in our anal savaging when we should just tell them to go fuck themselves with their own unabridged dictionary. Sideways.

You can argue about library relevance and how ebooks are the New Messiah, and how we'll all be saved if we just accept ebooks into our hearts, but you're a crazy person, anyway, and nobody likes you. We still live in a world where most of the people are illiterate, or functionally literate. And if you thought about it for more than five seconds, you'd understand what the real purpose of the library should be. And it ain't about getting a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey for those thirty horny women who just asked for it because think they might like some S&M, but would scream out loud if you were making out and accidentally leaned on their hair.

Oh, God, have you read any of this book? Fifty Shades of Grey? Read this and tell me it wasn't written by a sixteen-year-old girl:
“Does this mean you’re going to make love to me tonight, Christian?”
“No, Anastasia it doesn’t. Firstly, I don’t make love. I fuck… hard."
Well, duh. Does anyone fuck soft? We all fuck hard. But seriously, even librarians fuck hard. Just look on the internets for fuck videos. Everyone is banging away like they're trying to frighten the dog. If I were Anastasia, I wouldn't be so impressed by how hard Christian fucks, but for how long. "Anastasia, I fuck hard... for eight seconds. Then I grunt, fart and fall asleep."

Shit. Where was I? Oh, right. Fuck you, Random House.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Dark Side of Pinterest.

I'm one of those people who always asks, What's in it for THEM? whenever a new, "free" online service becomes hot.

We all know What's in it for Google when we search. THEM build databases from our searches and then sell ads based on the popularity and value of keywords and search results. And if we use Gmail, then Google sends us ads based on the keywords used in our emails. Which is why I've curbed my use of the word, dildo.

We know What's in it for Facebook. THEM give you a place to hang out while you're supposed to be looking for a job.

And in exchange for wasting all your free time there, THEM get to see who and what and why you exist. THEM get all your personal data, your online life and sell it to everyone. THEM get your soul.

Now some people, assholes we call them, say that you are just trading this information for being able to use these free services. But this is the part that makes them assholes; if the services were free, then I shouldn't need to give anyone anything. Asshole.

So these free services are not free and since we never know just what they are taking from us in exchange for our using them, we can never truly understand just how much we have given away. What is your personal information worth? Is it worth five hours growing fake crops? Is it worth looking at a dozen photos of your junior high best friend's new baby?

And so when Pinterest came along, I also asked, What's in it for THEM? when I upload and pin photos of items of things I want or like or might buy?

My first thought, which was completely wrong, was that companies wouldn't want all of us pinning the photos of their products to some other website when they really want us to visit their website to view those products. And now I know that's not even a little bit right. Like if I saw some lingerie at Anthropolgie that I liked, which I often do, and I pinned it on a Pinterest board, wouldn't Anthropologie get mad? The answer is No. (Whoops, but it looks like some people don't appreciate having their content pinned.)

When you create a board on Pinterest and pin items to it, those links actually benefit the companies where you pin. Think of it this way: if you're Store X and have some products on your website, the only way to for anyone to see them is to visit your online store. Or if you're lucky, have your product appear in a Google or Yahoo shopping or NexTag or PriceGrabber or whatever search. But what if you had your own tiny little army of soldiers who would make tiny little stores on Pinterest where all your coolest stuff were on display? Wouldn't that be awesome?

So if I'm Store X and my buyers fill my store with stuff, I need to advertise it if I want it sold. And advertising isn't cheap. If my Pinterest Army made boards and pinned only my best stuff, then I would have another outlet for my products. It's like, maybe an Elle or Vogue magazine page where they group all the white dresses and white accessories together or all the hats. But this is a live page with links to actual items you can buy and not some sheet of paper that just says, Jimmy Choo sandals, $450. I can click on the image and buy it now!

Let's say you want to find that black and white stripe sailor bikini you just saw Taylor Swift wearing in that photo the other day and you find a Hurley or Juicy Couture style that looks just like it? If you Pin It and describe it as the Taylor Swift bikini, you're probably going to get hundreds if not thousands of "likes" or "repins" for it and more than a few sales. And I'm betting that Juicy can't legally call their bikini, the Taylor Swift, without suffering some legal bungholery. But you can pin it and name it and it's all legal. Even if you're a Juicy employee or work for the store that sells it.

In fact, Pinterest has a whole section devoted to shopping for Gifts. Who'da thunk?

So if you are Store X, how do you reward your Pinterest Army? Do you reward just one person, the General? Or do you not reward all the soldiers? And if you're a soldier, what do you get out of all the time you spend pinning?

I never think my time is worth nothing. Because I went to college. Three times.

So now when I see items on Pinterest, I think, What motivates that person to pin? Is this someone working for Store X or promoting their friend's stuff on Etsy? Is this their job? Am I being manipulated?

But I'm guessing some of you don't care. Because those earrings are gorgeous.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

FREEDOM shouldn't be a CRIME.


But DRM STRIPPING is going to become the biggest thing on the internet. Not as big as porn, but still. BIG. Why is it BIG? Because file stripping equals freedom. The freedom to lend an ebook to your friend.

This is because as the growth in ebook demand continues to increase, access to legitimately free ebooks is decreasing. The reason is that the Big Six publishers are fucking stupid. If you want to borrow an ebook from one of the Big Six, your ability to get it from the library is down to almost zero.

Of the B6:
  1. Random House reportedly just raised their ebook prices to libraries by a million per cent. Or it might as well be, since we ain't gonna fucking pay it.
  2. Penguin cut sales to libraries altogether.
  3. HarperCollins limits how many times an ebook can circulate before the library needs to buy another copy, so we don't shop there, either.
  4. Macmillan doesn't sell to libraries.
  5. Simon & Schuster doesn't.
  6. Hachette don't neither.
If you don't know what means, the current NYT bestseller for fiction is Private Games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan which is published by Hachette. So libraries won't get it. Kill Shot by Vince Flynn from Simon & Schuster is #2. And The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice is from Random House. Do I need to go on? We won't be getting any of these books for our patrons to borrow to for their ereaders or mobile devices.

Now, what happens when you take all the ereader and tablet and laptop users who have been behaving like good citizens by borrowing their ebooks from the library and you cut off their legal supply? They're going to get their fixes from the Dark Side of the internet. Or from each other.

Hey, Marge, Carol says, I just got Blah, blah blah, on my reader, do you want a copy?

Oh, I get my books from the library, Carol replies.

Not any more, Marge declares. The library can't buy any new books. The only way you're getting a copy is to buy one. Or not buy one.

Fuckity fuck! Carol curses because she's a regular library user. And then she says with a wink, Can I not buy one from you?

Ebook lending between individuals is going to explode when the legitimate supply dries up. When publishers remove the library from the supply channel, this flow of goods will just find a new route. And it ain't gonna mean more money for publishers.

Yes, I know all these people are going to steal the books, anyway. Libraries can't possibly satisfy the reading wants for 25 million people even when we are able to buy all the ebooks we want.

So why don't the B6 publishers care? Dunno.

Maybe they have a backup plan. Maybe they plan to sue Carol and Marge for $500,000 for each ebook they lend to each other. But how would they know?

Maybe the ereader knows? I mean, can an ereader tell which book you're reading by comparing the screen displays from a legal copy of a book and an illegal, stripped one? Even if you removed all the identifying markers from an ebook, the text is still the same; page 20 is page 20. Can an ereader detect which pixel configuration belongs to each book just by scanning the layout of page 20? And then determining that your copy was stolen? Again, dunno.

But what are library users to do when publishers make them criminals by removing this important legal access channel? Vive la libération!

and yes, I understand you can lend some ebooks to your friends, within limits, which can change, without notice... and if you've used it, how does Booklending work? it just uses the Amazon rules to allow you to lend a book to a stranger?

Friday, March 2, 2012

How can YOU use Pinterest?

I've seen a lot of articles on how I can use Pinterest in my library. Or in my life.

Here are some awesome ideas for using Pinterest in your library:
1. Create a boards for new books that your library has received within the past few weeks or months.
2. Create boards to promote activities or programs with links to learn more and pictures of the activity or program.
3. Create boards for each one of your major collections and share the most popular items as pins.
4. Create boards with pins for your library displays or rare collections.
5. Create boards with pins to promote your movies and other media.
6. Share your boards on your library facebook and twitter.
Okay, I could say, but I've already done all that on our website. And on our Facebook page. And our Flickr page. But now you want me to do it again with a new social networking site? I've already done all this work at least twice. And now I need to do it again? Because this is the new 'big thing'? Says who?

Or I could say that I don't do any of that. And I don't need to do that.

I don't have a bulletin board in my office or in my house. I don't have a photo album. I don't scrapbook. I have one photograph on my refrigerator and it's of my dog. Her name is Pete.

I haven't remodeled my kitchen since it was modeled when the house was built. The walls are lemon yellow. I don't dream of my dream house and scan the world for pictures of what it will be.

I have two pairs of shoes, one black, one brown. All my socks are white athletic tube socks and I have one pair of black socks for when I'll get married or when I'm buried. I don't need to collect images of clothes to share with others.

So, do you need Pinterest? Or is this another example of a Thneed?

You NEED Pinterest. YOU should FIND A WAY TO USE IT. NOW.

It's like when all these people come into our computer classes and ask what computer or tablet or ereader to buy to buy. The first thing I ask is What do you want to do with it? Oh, I need a computer, the people often say.

Why? What do you want to do that you need that thing? Oh, you'll find a need for it after you buy it? Since when? Tell that to the food processor I bought that made one meal. Or the digital camera that sits in the underwear drawer. Or the bicycle collecting cobwebs in the garage. Or the books left unopened on table. You can't buy something because you think that buying it will encourage you to use it. If you run around your neighborhood and think that biking would be better, then get a bike. But if you buy a bike only to find out that all the dogs on the block chase you when you ride, then you didn't do your homework.

We always find new ways to manufacture new needs for new stuff.

I'm not arguing against the uses of Pinterest for people who like to share stuff and have everyone comment on the importance of that stuff. But in the past, I've just saved all the images of this stuff on my computer in folders that only I see. I didn't need the world's approval.

So if you see a need for using Pinterest, then create some boards. I did. But I got bored immediately. Because it's not for me. Although now I feel like I have a desire to organize images of scabs and I might make a board for it. Or maybe separate boards for scabs on knees and scabs on elbows. And one for people blowing their noses. Oh, God, I really need Pinterest.