Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gather round to trim the tree

Springtime National Mall version

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Roast chicken with olives and mushrooms, mashed cauliflower, and spinach

Chicken, Spinach, mashed cauliflowerI made what turned out to be a rather tasty meal tonight. Three dishes:

- Roast chicken with bacon and olives (and mushrooms)
- Mashed Cauliflower with Rosemary and Bacon
- Sauteed spinach with pine nuts and garlic
Chicken with olives and mushrooms

The first two dishes are from my new favorite recipe site, Martha's Envy (linked to above). The first two dishes were pretty much as listed in the recipes (I used pre-cut chicken and also added mushrooms since there is an anti-olive element in my house).

The spinach dish was:

- 1 bag of whole leaf spinach
- 8 cloves of chopped garlic
- handful of pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Saute garlic in olive oil, add spinach in handfuls, making room in the pan as it wilts, season with salt and pepper, toss in pine nuts. remove from heat while spinach still slightly firm.

Mashed cauliflower (much better picture at Martha Envy)

Mashed cauliflower

Breaking out the snow shovels (for the last time this season?)

Current prediction for 2 inches.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quote of the Day: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, er, March

Pink and gray
Maybe the rough winds are shaking buds in England, but here in Washington, it's been a windy, gray, rainy March. Still, but buds are a-bloomin'

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date,
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st.
     So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
     So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Google Book Settlement, Losing the obvious dragon

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So, at long last, Judge Denny Chin has decided, in the form of a rejection, the proposed settlement between Google, the Authors Guild, and the AAP (aka the Google Book Settlement Amended Settlement Agreement, GBS/ASA).

Key points in the decision:
  • Chin feels a new agreement with an author/publisher "opt-in" model (as opposed to the current "opt-out" model) might work
  • the GBS/ASA would “grant Google significant rights to exploit entire books, without permission of the copyright owners”
  • the GBS/ASA would "Google a significant advantage over competitors,
  • rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted
  • works without permission"
There's been some whooping and cheering from the library community with this slightly unexpected decision, so I feel compelled to offer some contrarian thoughts that popped into my head last night. Before I get to those, however, here's my first thought:

The open digitization movement for books, including public domain materials, has lost the big, easy, target. The strong negative reaction to the GBS/ASA energized a base of open access activists that, by using the Google Books demon, focused attention on key issues of access and digitization for a greater public good. I was at the Internet Archive on the day the settlement was first announced. Brewster Kahle was suddenly in demand for interviews with the press for opinions on the GBS/ASA and what it meant. Who or what will enable that kind of forum/soapbox now? Google and the GBS/ASA was a perfect point to rally a number of different communities. Now there's no obvious dragon to slay (or windmill to tilt at), just hundreds and thousands of individual authors and publishers that have to be negotiated with, slowly, one at a time. 

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My other thoughts:
  • The monetization genie is out of the bottle. Google and the Authors Guild have put a price on out of print books. Judge Chin has said this isn't the right way to set a price, but we all now know that somebody somewhere (in Mountain View) has put a hard dollar figure on out of print books. Next time you want to digitize an in copyright book and tell the author, they've made no money on royalties for n years, they know that Google says it's worth $. To be precise, the GBS/ASA says: "For Principal Works, Entire Inserts, and Partial Inserts that Google digitized on or before May 5, 2009, Google will pay at least US$60 per Principal Work, US$15 per Entire Insert, and US$5 per Partial Insert." (there's another whole section on how Google would revenue share on monies generated by Google on the content that gets arcane, but you can read it full GBS/ASA link above).
  • What's in it for Google now? Google is counter incentivized to keep the public domain books public, what are the options to keep this (even limited openness) open? What were the agreements between Google and the participating libraries that would let this happen under the umbrella of something like HathiTrust or more possibly, the Digital Public Library of America?
  • Google could buy off authors/publishers. Google was the deep pockets sugar daddy that could force publishers to see the future; without a GBS/ASA, the field is open for publishers to pick the carcass of the non-public domain out of print books. The recent HarperCollins ebook lending policy shows that "curious" new arrangements can be made (I hedge this phrasing here because I think that the library community has been a bit off-base with its reaction to the HarperCollins' policy since we don't live in quite the bitonal/2 bit world the argument's been painted as).
  • Future of Google Books? What happens to the books in Google books? (assuming the "opt-in option" gets no buy-in or is too cumbersome). Google keeps the status quo, if you find a book you like you can then buy it from? In what format? Do we get something like the current "agency" model that publishers imposed on Amazon ebooks?
And for those who find basketball more interesting, here's the Library Copyright Alliance diagram of "GBS Going Forward"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Five years for Twitter, almost four years for me and Twitter

2010-10-30-IMG_0029So, for Twitter's 5th birthday, I took a look at my Twitter stats (I joined on June 27, 2007 - a later early adopter!). This post is my 3,510th Tweet.

October 10, 2010 was my busiest month with 161 Tweets. You'll be happy to know that I average a "mere" 3.6 tweets per day (most often on a Tuesday for some reason! Though not a daily statistical difference).
Birds waiting for leftovers at World's Fair Donuts

The people I most often re-tweet (besides @BioDivLibrary) are @gluejar, @carlmalamud, @chrisfreeland, and @outtacontext (interesting group!)

In case you're wondering where those stats come from, you can check out TweetStats and discover more about yourself in the Twitterverse!

Little "Supermoon" photo for posterity

2011.03.19-IMG_1880 by martin_kalfatovic
2011.03.19-IMG_1880 a photo by martin_kalfatovic on Flickr.
A little late in the "supermoon" bandwagon I suppose, but here are a couple of shots I took (no tripod, no zoom) so not nearly as fabulous as some of the other pictures I've seen of the event.

Also had some pretty bad light pollution going on in my neighborhood (as usual).


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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Welcome to my nightmare, I hope I didn't scare you ...

2010-04-28-IMG_7058She asked me why the singer's name was Alice I said listen baby you really wouldn't understand ("Be My Love" Killer)

So, last night, Alice Cooper was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (by Rob Zombie). All I can say is, well, it's about time!

Lines form on my face and hands lines form from the ups and downs / I'm in the middle without any plans I'm a boy and I'm a man / I'm eighteen and I don't know what I want eighteen I just don't know what I want ("I'm Eighteen", Killer)

Alice, from the early days when Alice was a band, to the later days when Alice was just a whacked out Vincent Furnier, there were always great songs. From the early ones like "Earwigs to Eternity" from the Frank Zappa discovered Pretties for You; through the brilliant '70s albums, Easy Action, Love it to Death (with the seminal song, "I'm Eighteen"), Killer, and the masterwork, Billion Dollar Babies. And oh, yes, I left off School's Out (great song, ok album).

Muscle of Love, the last album of the Alice Cooper group, was notable for it's amazingly complex cover (a shipping box with all kinds of extras tucked in) as well as the "lost" James Bond theme, "Man With the Golden Gun" and the hit, "Teenage lament '74."
Welcome to my breakdown.
I hope I didn't scare you.
That's just the way we are when we come down.
We sweat and laugh and scream here.
'Cause life is just a dream here.
You know inside you feel right at home, here.
Yeah, Welcome to my nightmare yeah, hey, hey, hey... ("Welcome to my Nightmare")
The solo years kicked off with the theatrical and great Welcome to My Nightmare and the less great Alice Cooper Goes to Hell.

And from then, things got hazy; Lace and Whiskey had some good songs (the remake of "Ubangi Stomp" for one), but there followed weird albums (like From the Inside with lyrics by Bernie Taupin and yet another amazingly complex cover that involved gate folds, cutouts, and other paper construction tricks).

The 80s brought some good songs, "Clones (We're All)", "Teenage Frankenstein", "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)", "Poison". Likewise, the 90s and 2000s saw "Hey Stoopid", "Feed My Frankenstein", "Lost in America", and the great "Brutal Planet":
It's such a brutal planet
It's such a living hell
It was a holy garden
That's right where Adam fell
It's where the bite was taken
It's where we chose to sin
It's where we first were naked
This is where our death begins
Here's where we keep the armies
Here's where we write their names
Here's where the money god is
Here's our famous hall of shame
Here's where we starve the hungry
Here's where we cheat the poor
Here's where we beat the children
Here is where we pay the whore
So, here are a few memories of Alice:
  • December 1975, my second live concert (the first was Elvis), Alice's "Welcome to My Nightmare" show at the Sahara Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Nevada. I went with my mother (!), some of her friends and some other kids from school. It was quite a show. 
  • July 1976, trying to decide between Three Dog Night's Greatest Hits and Alice Cooper Goes to Hell at the record store (Alice won).
  • April 1977, riding my bike to the record store to get the new release of Lace and Whiskey (along with the also new release, The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl).
  • April 2010, being in Rochester, MN and seeing the marque at the Mayo Civic Center for the upcoming show, "The Gruesome Twosome Tour with Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie".

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I can't get a girl
cuz I ain't got a car
I can't get a car
cuz I ain't got a job
I can't get a job
cuz I ain't got a car
So I'm looking for a girl with a job and a car
Don't you know where you are
Lost in America
I can't go to school
cuz I ain't got a gun
I ain't got a gun
cuz I ain't got a job
I ain't got a job
cuz I can't go to school
So I'm looking for a girl with a gun and a job
Don't you know where you are
Lost in America
("Lost in America")

Monday, March 14, 2011

How to start worrying and hate New Media

2010-06-24-IMG_8543So, I was reading James Fallow's Learning to Love the (Shallow, Divisive, Unreliable) New Media in The Atlantic (FYI, probably the best long-form dig-deep media outlet - notice I didn't say "magazine" - out there) and was struck by the opening which referenced a Ted Koppel Washington Post piece that was basically about the "good old days of broadcast media." Fallow's then goes on for a number of pages that basically condemns "new media" for its pandering to "trendy" news and creation of "news".

Now of course we all know that Koppel rode the gravy train of needless sensationalism with his own "America Held Hostage" TV show (which eventually turned into "Nightline").

Fallows eventually gets around to mentioning this - many many pages later, but by that time he's so discredited his thesis that I didn't care much anymore.

The article is worth reading, if for nothing else, the counter arguments that it will help you build.

Nota Bene: in the same issue, you'll find an excellent piece by Newton Minow (yes, he of The Skipper's SS Minnow from Gilligan's Island fame), "A Vaster Wasteland" which tells why our new media have trumped the old media that brought us the "vast wasteland":
Our first must be to expand freedom, in order to strengthen editorial independence in news and information. Freedom of thought is the foundation of our national character, and at its best the Internet represents the full flowering of that freedom. The Internet itself is the result of an open system that has encouraged technological innovation and creative energy we could never have dreamed of—and, happily, the FCC, under its talented chairman, Julius Genachowski, is leading public-interest advocates and industry groups to both meet the practical needs and uphold the democratic values at stake. 

R.I.P.: RLG

RLG Cultural MaterialsIt was just officially announced that:
The OCLC Research Library Partnership is a new entity that will replace the RLG Partnership on 1 July 2011 and is a locus for OCLC's increased support of the research library community. It is an organization born out of the successful merger of RLG and OCLC in 2006, when expert staff from the two organizations were blended into one team with a combined effort directed toward supporting research libraries and archives. The merger created a venue where affiliated institutions could collectively identify, analyze, prioritize and design scalable solutions to shared information challenges.
The end of June 2011 marks the conclusion of the five-year period of integrating the RLG Partnership into OCLC. Since then, OCLC Research staff and RLG Partners have engaged in an impressively wide and important array of initiatives, many of which are highlighted in the document, OCLC Research and the RLG Partnership: A Five Year Overview of Accomplishments. Because of this, the OCLC Board of Trustees and OCLC management decided to substantially increase their investment in the Partnership.
This is a significant change in libraryland. The RLG (Research Libraries Group) was for years, a hallmark of quality, innovation, and service (we can also add elitism, but in a good way).  The dropping of the RLG name in July will mark the full transition of the RLG program to OCLC. On the positive side, such staff (and friends) as Merrilee Proffitt, Constance Malpas, Roy Tennant, Ricky Erway, Karen Smith-Yoshimura, Jim Michalko Bruce Washburn (and others, including the ever entertaining Walt Crawford) will still be bringing innovative and cutting edge ideas to the world of information via the new entity, the OCLC Research Library Partnership.

I'm hoping that the thoughtful group blog, Hanging Together continues to hang in there.

2008-06-03-dscn4012Some former RLG'ers have even landed more nearby in my life (pictured on the left at an RLG meeting in Philadelphia, June 2008), Anne Van Camp (Director of Smithsonian Archives) and Günter Waibel (Director, Digitization Projects Office) are now both at the Smithsonian (as is my boss, Nancy Gwinn (Director of Smithsonian Libraries) who left RLG a while ago!

RLG also had some of the most righteous schwag ever at conferences and meetings.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Chicken Sausage with Rice

Chicken Sausage with Rice

Ingredients
4 chicken sausages (I used spinach and feta)
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1-2 large carrots, chopped
12 oz mushrooms, quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves

Seasonings to taste
salt and pepper
oregano
paprika
rosemary
basil
cilantro

Directions
Saute sausage in olive oil with garlic til well browned, set aside
In a large pan, lightly toss rice with olive oil
Add vegetables and mushrooms, toss and let cook about 3 minutes
Add seasonings
Add 2 cups of broth and water, bring to boil
Add sausage and garlic, bring to boil and then reduce to simmer
Add additional broth as needed to keep a slightly moist consistency
Cook 15 minutes or until rice is done

Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

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2011.03.06-IMG_1775

2011.03.06-IMG_1777

Oyamel

Monday, March 07, 2011

RLG Cultural Materials: where museums, libraries & archives intersect (or not?)

RLG Cultural Materials was an initiative of RLG (before they became part of OCLC) and before the going terminology was "Libraries, Archives, Museums" (giving us the much catchier acronym "LAM" - as opposed to MLA). And once you have a LAM, you can then have "Beyond Silos of the LAMS" (thanks GuWa for that), and LOD-LAM, LAM CHIPs (Library/Archive/Museum Cultural Heritage Information Professionals),and other nifty things.

RLG Cultural Materials

But I digress because I really wanted to talk about the RLG Cultural Materials puzzle, one of the best pieces of conference schwag I ever got! Just loved this puzzle, as did my daughter, then about 3 when I got it. We used it for years. Now, the cup is part of our Yahzee! kit. I did the puzzle again last night for the first time in a while. Still a quite nice graphic.

RLG Cultural Materials

But the part of the puzzle that I still don't quite get is how libraries, archives, and museums can really come together in big initiatives, like, say, the Digital Public Library of America, with an equal representation of all three components. A conundrum I'm having a hard time getting my head around still!

RLG Cultural Materials

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Mnemosyne, human memory, and the wonder of our technological memory

1987-08-D-0024 by martin_kalfatovic
1987-08-D-0024 a photo by martin_kalfatovic on Flickr.
The Washington Post had a book review (by Marie Arana) of Joshua Foer's Moonwalking With Einstein, which, from the review seems a shallow paen to the idea of being able to memorize the names of Presidents, State capitals, and other parlor tricks.

Rather than the random storage of bits and bytes the Foer seems to glorify (how many cards can you memorize?). I choose to honor and celebrate Mnemosyne, the human memory that creates new things.

Mnemosyne, of course, was the personification of memory in Greek mythology. She was a Titaness (daughter of Gaia and Uranus) and most importantly, mother of the nine Muses. In short, the wellspring from which spring all that is creative.

The critics of the aide-mémoire are, of course legion. Plato, with his legendary distrust of shadows and symbols, give the classic diatribe against human (or even godly) inventions that will help humans to remember:
But when they came to letters, This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit. Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality. (Plato, Phaedrus). Emphasis added.
I, for one, revel in the memory aids that use those decreasing powers of my personal memory to make connections, to make new thoughts, and not spend too much mental space on mere facts. The human created aids that let me call up Plato with a few clicks and not rely on imperfect memory; the tools which let me instantly find a picture of the Colossi of Memnon, the tools that let me actually write and publish this and not rely on bards to memorize, and pass it on. Am I being tiresome? Am I lacking the reality of wisdom? Is this but the semblance of truth, or is it truth?

(Which isn't to say that I don't have the entire lyrics to the "Gilligan's Island Theme" safely tucked away in my head or that I made my daughter memorize the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities today!).

And, FYI, the picture above is one of the Colossi of Memnon, often associated with Theuth.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Smithsonian Libraries Hall, last walk ...

Taking my last few walks down "Library Hall" at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum (location of central offices of Smithsonian Libraries). The hall will be under construction for 16+ months (all staff are in temporary offices).

If libraries still exist in 2012, we'll move back to the new, improved spaces ... wish us luck!

And here's the view looking back:

Smithsonian Libraries Hall