Archive for 2005

Random notes

Saturday, November 5th, 2005

Quickies on a Saturday morning after a 48-hour absence from the net. (I was speaking at Cal State Northridge, opening the CARL-SEAL program “Hot off the press: Insider’s tips for successful publishing”–and thoroughly enjoyed it.)

  • At some point during the day (probably during my scattershot opening speech), I noted that, in my opinion, a very high percentage of library-related blogs are worthwhile, and aggregation makes it plausible to keep up with lots of them. (I noted Sturgeon’s Law, “90% of everything is crud,” although I used the more common version ending in “rap” instead of “rud” and argued that while it’s probably true for blogs in general, I don’t think it holds for the biblioblogosphere. I also noted that I currently track 216 library blogs and anticipated that, after being away for 48 hours, I’d find 150 to 200 (I hope I said “to 200”) posts waiting for me, which would take half an hour to an hour to scan. The actual number is 238, and it may take a little longer. Still, 238 in two days is manageable.
  • Dorothea Salo thought there might be enough Google Print books to make an egosurf worthwhile. So, of course, I did just as she says: “(Oh, shut up. If you haven’t already done it, you’re going to as soon as you finish reading this post. Maybe sooner.)” I was astonished by the result (none of my books are there, but…), even after adding quotes around the name to eliminate all those mentions of people named Crawford who work for Walt Disney, etc. 26 books, most of which I’ve never heard of… No, I haven’t gone back to look at the snippets yet…
  • I was encountering a slow but annoying stream of spamments, all of them trapped by WordPress but requiring modification to report as spam. Today I find 44. So, reluctantly, I’ve had to add yet another word to the total blacklist, relating to a game I’ve even discussed in posts…

Hey, I said it was random.

Updates a day later:

It took me 55 minutes to go through the blogs–but that included the time to make comments on two of them and the time to scan LISNews as well. I think I found 15 posts that were “keepers”–ones I’d print out for possible reflection later. But quite a few others were informative, entertaining, or both.

Some clarification on “26” above. I checked a little more. Most of those–at least two-thirds–really only include me as a co-author; they comment on or include citations for Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness and Reality. Two are books that include chapters or contributions from me. That doesn’t really leave much, and that’s as I’d expect. Note, of course, that (as with Dorothea, I believe), these are all from the publisher-based Google Print program, not the Google Print Library Program.

Incompetent phishing?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

Here’s a strange one, mixed in among the usual daily crapola of Important Security Messages from PayPal and a bunch of banks that I have no affiliation with…

(The ones that are clearly nonsense I delete before opening. Notes email client is helpful with the PayPal and others where I do have a relationship: When your cursor is over the link they want you to click on, the actual address shows on the bottom of the screen; saves having to show source…)

So here’s one “from PayPal” today, with two links, both supposedly secure links to units of PayPal.

The actual links are identical, and of course aren’t secure. But, instead of being some .kr or .ch or IP number or “pseudo-PayPal” (with “PayPal” coming after the domain name)…both links are to Nothing more.

I wonder just what the phishers hope to accomplish by getting me to look at Yahoo?

(Not that incompetence in computer fraud is anything new: After all, some of the biggest virus/worm problems arose because the crackers didn’t know what they were doing.)

Cites & Insights 5:13, a special issue, available

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

A special Mid-Fall 2005 issue of Cites & Insights (5:13) is now available. (Well, Fall begins September 22 and ends December 20; November 1 is about as “mid” as you can get.)

This 20-page issue consists of two Perspectives:

  • Life Trumps Blogging (pp. 1-4), which is most definitely a pro-blogging essay, but recognizes priorities.
  • Library Futures, Media Futures (pp. 4-20), which combines my comments on Blake Carver’s LISNews “Libraries and Librarians In A Digital Future: Where Do We Fit?” essay; excerpts and comments from and on “Jeremy, Dan, Luke, and Walt,” a multiway e-conversation about the future (yes, the Perspective includes last names for everyone); and some notes about other voices on media and library futures.

Update November 2:
Jeremy Frumkin correctly points out that I miskeyed the URL for his blog, and would be happier if I pointed out the specific links to the two posts discussed in the second essay above.

The Digital Librarian is at (with an “a” in digital; Jeremy can spell, even if I can’t).

The two posts discussed are: 5 years? and Follow-up on 5 years.

Later today, the HTML version of the essay will be modified to add hotlinks for those two posts (and to correct the spelling of the blog’s address), and–although my standard policy is to not make myself look better by fixing errors once publication has occurred–I’ll probably correct the spelling in the PDF version as well.

My apologies for the error and vague citations.

I have a formatting question about this issue, specifically the monster essay. In order to make it fit, I used 9.5-on-11.5 point Berkeley Book for quoted excerpts instead of the 10-on-12 point that I usually use (body text is 11 on 13). Is this too small for comfortable readability? If people generally say it’s OK, I may leave it that way…

[Yes, you can pick up either Perspective as an HTML separate from the home page–but if you plan to print at all, please use the PDF. The second Perspective in HTML form requires more paper all by itself than the whole issue in PDF, and it’s nowhere near as readable, in my opinion. Hey, I paid good money for Berkeley Book…]

Predicted arrival date for what should be a slightly more “normal” December issue: No earlier than November 17, no later than December 1. How’s that for precision?

With some trepidation…

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

A funny thing happened on the way to the December Cites & Insights.

Finished the November issue in mid-October. Check. Posted it. Check. Took a couple of days to clean up the pieces (updating the volume index, etc.) and look at the burgeoning folders for future issues. Check.

Sort-of figured out what I’d probably write about for December: A piece (most likely a big piece) on the Open Content Alliance and Google Print Library Project, including some ©2 issues–that’s the thickest folder. Maybe a ©3 essay: Second thickest folder. After an interesting multiway email exchange, it seemed likely that I’d do a followup on the Net Media Perspective, probably a “mea culpa” (turns out I’m not in a good position to judge the presence or absence of Established Voices within the biblioblogosphere).

Two perspectives that I knew I wanted to write: A relatively short one on “Life Trumps Blogging” (no, I didn’t originate the term–a bunch of Christian/Bible bloggers were using “Real life trumps blogging” in 2002/2003, but I didn’t know about any of that) and another one about library and media futures, finally offering my comments on Blake Carver’s “Where do we fit?” essay at LISNews.

I started out with the last one. And wound up with around 16,000 words. Typically, a 22-page issue has room for around 16,300 words, and I definitely wanted the last issue of the year to be reasonably well-balanced, with four to seven pieces. Well, that wasn’t going to work.

So I set it aside and wrote the “Life Trumps Blogging” perspective. That went well, and came in at around 2,800 words–a good length.

I set both of them aside and wrote two columns with late November or early December deadlines–the next “PC Monitor” for Online and the next “disContent” for EContent.

Then I tried to cut the “Library Futures, Media Futures” perspective down to size (6,000 words at most). And utterly failed. Even though, reading through it, I can see that it will probably make me even less in demand as a hot speaker and more subject to the kind of dismissive “Luddite” / “curmudgeon” labeling that seems to pass for argumentation in some blogs these days.

So, with a mild amount of trepidation…well, see the next post. Addition: “Next” chronologically, which means you’ve probably already read it.

A sweet Halloween epiphany

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

We live in a neighborhood with lots of kids (all of them pretty well-behaved, possibly because there’s a great local school system, possibly because it’s a real neighborhood, possibly because the working parents care about their kids).

So, of course, even though we don’t do Xmas decorations, we do at least minimal Halloween decor (just a big spider web and a skeleton, but we’ll look for those 5-foot spiders next year…), and we do have an adequate supply of candy to last 6 to 9 p.m. or so. (And we have a stupid “scary sounds and stories” CD, obviously digitized from an old stupid scary sounds LP with no extras–it’s one 57 minute cut, but it was cheap; we play it when kids are at the door.)

And, being sensible folks, we buy candy that we like; in this case, one of Target’s medium-sized bags each of M&Ms, KitKat bars, and Reese’s Cups. (“Medium-sized” equals 28 to 36 snack-size servings.) My wife–who doesn’t much care for candy, really–sometimes likes M&Ms, sometimes Reese’s; I have a fondness for KitKat, but only eat them in early November…

But my wife has also taken to eading Lindt bittersweet chocolate bars, one bar over the course of a week or so, and I’ve found my perfect level of chocolate–Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate (from Belgium, 58% cocoa solids, three 1.75oz. bars for $1.29; I eat one-quarter of a bar each workday, 57 calories worth).

So last night, we do the usual (the wife wears an all-black outfit and has a witch’s hat; I hang around in the background; we put a flashlight-lighted plastic pumpkin in the front window), drawing a pretty good crowd. The kids really go for KitKat, digging through the other two candies in some cases (offered in another plastic pumpkin)… But we wound up with maybe five KitKats, three Reese’s, and six or eight M&Ms. So I figured I’d have one KitKat last night and keep two for later (we take the rest in to work…where they disappear rapidly). She figured she’d have one Reese’s and save two or three for later.

A funny thing happened to both of us. We didn’t enjoy the treats. They were just too sickeningly sweet.

Who woulda thunk it?

Oldest usenet post?

Saturday, October 29th, 2005

I don’t know if it’s a new thing, or if I just noticed it, but several folks have posted items noting their oldest Usenet posting, as garnered from Google Groups.

I don’t remember ever getting involved with Usenet as such. Bitnet, on the other hand…

The oldest one with my name attached locatable via Google Groups is here from March 18, 1992–and it’s an odd post. From the right list, though, PACS-L; possibly not where I did my earliest Bitnet posts, but close enough.

Thing is, PACS-L started a long time before 1992. The list started some time in the late 1980s (Charles W. Bailey, Jr. knows for sure); the associated journal, The Public-Access Computer Systems Review, was founded in July 1989 and began publishing in 1990. I was associated with the journal (to some extent) throughout its life, and was reasonably active on PACS-L from early days. So there’s a bunch of missing Bitnet history at Google Groups; maybe it wasn’t echoed on Usenet until the 1990s.

(The oldest Google Groups post containing “Walt Crawford” is here, and is an announcement of an issue of PACS Review volume 2; given my feelings about Stevan Harnad these days, it’s odd to have a Psycoloquy post be the earliest. Such is “history.”)

Organizing principles

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Despite the overwhelming response to this post, or in the wan hope that both of you actually read it but couldn’t come up with any guesses as to the organizing principle at work, I’m going to use [waste] another post.

Here’s another CD-R playlist, made using exactly the same general organizing principle as in the other post–but in this case, the specifics are such that the organizing principle could have been used to make a mix cassette back in LP days. Actually, I believe I used the same principle and this particular instance of the principle to do so, but of course the results were much different.

So here’s the playlist. I’ll take guesses (or lack thereof) until November 6 or so, then finally break down and tell a breathlessly waiting nobody what the principle is:

  • Jump Up Behind Me – James Taylor
  • Girl from the North Country – Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan
  • I Need to Be in Love – The Carpenters
  • Avalon – Randy Newman
  • Steel Rail Blues – Gordon Lightfoot
  • Red Sails in the Sunset – Fats Domino
  • Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway) – Billy Joel
  • Better Class of Losers – Randy Travis
  • Miracle of Miracles – Fiddler on the Roof
  • Blue Mountain Road – Tom Paxton
  • Embrace Me, You Child – Carly Simon
  • Joe Knows How to Live – Eddy Raven
  • Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning – Willie Nelson
  • Nikita – Elton John
  • Power and the Glory – Phil Ochs
  • Cool Cool Water – The Beach Boys
  • The Duke (live mono version) – Dave Brubeck
  • Desire – Boz Scaggs
  • Kodachrome – Paul Simon
  • Maid of Constant Sorrow – Judy Collins
  • New York’s Not My Home – Jim Croce

Any guesses? (There’s actually a second CD-R, with precisely the same organizing principle but 22 different songs, including “Circus” by Eric Clapton, “Best of Friends” by Joan Baez, “Seamless Life” by Vance Gilbert, and “Joshua Gone Barbados” by Tom Rush, if that helps.)

SciFi Classics 50-movie Pack, Disc 5

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

So all the cool kids were in Monterey, apparently all of them speaking as well as blogging. Ah well, I was never one of the cool kids. (And if I heard Abram claiming DVDs are going to disappear in some near-term future, I’d probably laugh loud enough to interrupt the keynote, so it’s just as well…)

Meanwhile, I’ve been walking my way through Thebes and nearby locations, somehow always uphill at a 4 to 5.5 degree grade, accompanied by four different hunks all claiming to be Hercules.

[Yes, I deviated from the Sci-Fi/TV-Movie alternation: I didn’t want to finish the first half of each 50-pack in the same month for what may or may not be good reasons. Fortunately, these were actually pretty well made flicks…if not in any way science fiction.]

So here’s what I’ve written for a future issue of Cites & Insights:

There’s a theme to this disc: Hercules! Legendary strong man, son of Zeus, beefcake for the ages, played by a different mortal in each of these movies—four from some 40 Italian and Italian-French productions with titles including “Ercole” or “Maciste” (son of Hercules?) or “Sanson” (Samson, but who’s counting?), not including all the TV movies and the Disney cartoon. (Some of the “Maciste” are actually son or sons of Hercules, and I see a couple of those coming up in later discs.)

These movies have a lot in common besides Hercules as protagonist. They’re all color. They’re all Italian. They all feature evil or at least semi-evil (and sometimes deranged) women rulers or co-rulers who swoon over Hercules (and in at least two cases try to keep him around through drugs). They all have lots of young women in short “Hellene”/Theban/whatever outfits to match the lightly-clad Hercules and sometimes groups of other hunks.

Oh, and they’re all fairly well made movies. Sure, they’re fodder for MST3K (at least two of these four were on that show). Sure, the plots make as much sense as most mythical tales, even less than some. But they have good production values—sometimes remarkably good production values—and good cinematography, staging, and the rest. These are legitimate B flicks. Hear that snap and crunch? The snap is the thread of connection to “Sci-Fi” at least breaking completely free. The crunch is Hercules tossing huge statues into groups of attackers or otherwise showing his superhuman strength. (Well, why not? He’s born of gods. What do you expect?)

All in all, decent flicks—but they’re not science fiction by any stretch.

Hercules Against the Moon Men, 1964, color, Giacomo Gentilomo (dir.), Sergio Cianti (“Alan Steel”) as Hercules, original title Maciste e la regina di Samar (Italian-French production). 1:30 [1:27]

Here’s an oddity: From the opening titles, you might think this was black and white. It’s not, although the color’s a little faded. More damage than in the other three films, but still a watchable print. The plot involves the city of Samar, where children are being sacrificed to some mountain—which is where the moon men live, and they have an alliance with the evil queen. Too much plot, and for some reason the U.S. agents felt it necessary to have an “American” star, thus “Alan Steel” for the actor Sergio Cianti. I give it $0.75, mostly because the print’s damaged.

Hercules and the Captive Women, 1961, color, Vittorio Cottafavi (dir.), Reg Park as Hercules, original title Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide (Italian production). 1:41 (original), 1:33 (U.S.). [1:34]

Too bad they didn’t translate the Italian title, since this is really about Atlantis—and now we know how that island disappeared! You see, Hercules, setting from Thebes for some reason, kills a demon/demigod, thus freeing a captive woman (singular: there’s only one) who’s been partly trapped inside rock, and they go back to Atlantis, where…oh, never mind. The immortal race of Atlantis folk all look the same (at least the men), they want to be shrouded in fog, they mistreat regular folks, and thanks to Hercules, the whole island gets blown up and deep-sixed. Good color, some print damage, certainly watchable. $1.

Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon, 1964, color, Domenico Paolella (dir.), Peter Lupus (“Rock Stevens”) as Hercules, original title Ercole contro I tiranni di Babilonia (Italian production). 1:30 (orig.), 1:26 (U.S.) [1:25]

He’s been hanging out, preventing Babylonian troops from capturing even more slaves to take back to their empire, ruled by two brothers and a sister (all of them a bit deranged). He finds that the queen of the Hellenes has been captured, so off he goes to the rescue. The tyrants don’t know she’s one of the slaves; lots of stuff ensues; the climax involves the highly probable historic scenario that the female ruler has had all the big buildings in downtown Babylon attached by chains to a huge underground winch, so that, at her command, a hundred slaves can turn the winch, thus destroying Babylon so she can rule from the other major city. Need I say that Hercules has the strength of a hundred? Peter Lupus is probably the best actor of the four Hercules, and this episode may be the least over-the-top in acting in general. $1.25.

Hercules Unchained, 1959, color, Pietro Francisci (dir.), Steve Reeves as Hercules, Primo Carnera, original title Ercole e la regina di Lidia (Italian-French production). 1:34 (original), 1:45 (U.S.) [1:36]

This seems like the biggest production of the four, and the print’s in the best shape. This time, Thebes has problems because King Oedipus is blind and in exile and his sons, who are supposed to alternate on the throne, have problems: The first on the throne is crazy as a loon and won’t yield power. Somehow, Hercules ends up on a diplomatic mission, then drinks from the well of forgetfulness and is seduced by Queen Omphale—who is wearing a catsuit in the opening sequence, remarkable for a film set in ancient times. Lots of plot, and this time Hercules is married and his new wife is in danger. (Primo Carnera? Heavyweight champion, and even bigger than Steve Reeves; he’s in the movie for maybe two minutes, but it was his last hurrah.) Spectacular. $1.

ALA in New Orleans for Annual 2006

Friday, October 21st, 2005

I was delighted to see this announcement: New Orleans will continue to be the site for the 2006 ALA Annual Conference, June 22-29.

Not some supposed “virtual conference” with us all promising to send our registration money to relief efforts, leaving ALA $2 million in the hole, 20,000-odd librarians without the networking and learning opportunities of a real-world conference, and a chunk of money in (whose?) hands that will be a drop in the bucket compared to likely federal aid. Meanwhile abandoning the chunk of New Orleans that depends on tourism (otherwise known as “New Orleans”) without much help, since aid money tends to go in odd directions…

A real conference. With loads of Cajun and Creole cuisine, the nightlife of the French Quarter (which never did drown), and all the stuff that makes ALA Annual worthwhile.

Good for ALA. Good for New Orleans. I certainly plan to be there (I won’t say anything about “come hell or high water,” given disbelief in the one and all-too-much belief in the other). Maybe it’s time to try another C&I “in person” gathering?

Some other venue might be the place for folks to discuss what should happen with the massive reconstruction of New Orleans. My father’s a civil engineer; his thoughts about rebuilding in flood plains are clear and not too kindly. In NO’s case, I suspect there are parts of the city that should be turned into wetlands, with the people resettled in other areas that are above sea level. I also suspect, given who live(d)(s) in those areas, that the results would be for the poor to get even poorer, which makes things tricky.

But that’s a different set of issues. If I have a “favorite city” for ALA Annual, it’s probably New Orleans; too hot, too muggy, but–well, you’re in New Orleans. (I do, in fact, have a favorite for Midwinter, at least so far, and ALA’s there in January 2006.)

Make an effort to be there. It shouldn’t be a somber event. If Habitat for Humanity and others are (still?) building houses, sure, some of you may want to come early or leave late and contribute some labor. But just by being there–by spending your money in the local restaurants (and New Orleans food is mostly local restaurants, not national chains), by staying at hotels full of local workers–you’ll helping to make New Orleans back into the Big Easy.

[LibrarianInBlack blogged this before I did. I’m always happy to give her credit. I’d already seen the item, but hadn’t thought about blogging it.]

vPod: The real use!

Friday, October 21st, 2005

Truly an odd juxtaposition in the Datebook (entertainment) section of today’s San Francisco Chronicle, in the top and bottom portions of the leftmost column:

In the bottom half, Mark Morford (who I can only describe as an extreme opposite of Rush Limbaugh, and that’s not a compliment) reveals his “great idea for the iPod”–and thinks he’s the first to come up with it.

But in the top half, Tim Goodman, the Chronicle‘s TV reviewer, includes as a secondary item the same idea (about halfway down the column).

To wit, in both cases, porn on the go.

I would never have thought of that (OK, I lead a sheltered life), but they both make good points. (I’m not that fond of Goodman’s writing, but compared to Morford, he’s a master of prose. You can dig Morford’s points out of his unfortunate style, I think.) Namely, what else would people really pay good money to watch on a postage-stamp screen?

Ah, it’s Friday.