Archive for January, 2006

Midwinter gathering: The Menger bar

Monday, January 9th, 2006

We have a winner!

The wholly informal get-together of C&I readers will take place Monday, January 23, at 5 p.m., in the Menger bar (within the Menger Hotel).

The Menger Hotel is next to the Alamo and also adjacent to the Rivercenter; it’s not on the San Antonio Riverwalk, but it’s only a few steps away. It’s on Alamo Plaza. (It’s also one of ALA’s conference hotels, under “The Historic Menger Hotel.”)

I’ll see a few of you there. No agenda, no reserved seats, “no-host bar,” and I won’t be contacting the Menger in advance.

By the way, if you’ve never been, the Alamo is worth a visit–and don’t be surprised at just how small it really is.

Cites & Insights 6:2: A special issue

Sunday, January 8th, 2006

Cites & Insights 6:2, Midwinter 2006 is now available for downloading.

This is a special issue, 32 pages long in PDF form, consisting of one essay:

Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0”

Included are quotes and comments from some three dozen sources, some of them new to the discussion.

While the essay is also available in HTML form from the home page, please don’t use the HTML if you plan to print the issue–which, at 26,000 words, seems like a reasonable thing to do. The HTML version will take 42 pages to print (at least that’s what I see in Firefox “print preview”), as compared to the 32-page PDF. (Since there’s only one essay–albeit in five parts–there’s only one HTML file.)

A more typical (and shorter!) February Cites & Insights should be available near the end of January (not before January 27) or early in February.

Note: Roy Tennant has informed me that the link to the HTML version is wrong–it will get you the first essay in the January 2006 issue. I’ll fix that this evening (has to be done from home). Meanwhile, if you must download the 250K HTML file instead of the nice neat 32-page PDF, this will work. Fixed 1/9 p.m.

What big three is that?

Thursday, January 5th, 2006

This is a long-time grump that I was reminded of again in this morning paper’s Business section, recounting the problems of the three “American” automakers and the successes of the “Asian” automakers.

I am sick and tired of this nationalistic divide–particularly because it is factually inaccurate and makes no sense.

My Honda Civic is every bit as much an American car as your Dodge Neon, maybe more.

Made in the U.S.? Check–for my 2001 Civic and for most Hondas sold in the U.S. (except that California buys more Hondas than the American factories can build, so my wife’s 2005 Civic is Japan-built; if we’d taken a different color, it would have been Canadian-built or U.S.-built). Whereas “American” cars may be built in Canada, Mexico, Korea, or somewhere else entirely.

Made from primarily domestic parts? Check–85% for Civics (“domestic” explicitly includes Canada for all U.S. labeling); a much lower percentage for quite a few products of the Big Three.

Of course, I know why the Big Three are “American” and Honda isn’t: Because, at one time, GM, Ford, and Chrysler were American-owned.

But somehow, when Daimler-Benz essentially took over Chrysler (it may be called DaimlerChrysler, but it’s a European-owned, European-controlled company), it didn’t become the Big Two, Ford and GM. Nope; DaimlerChrysler somehow retained its status as an American car company.

At which point the whole thing became completely ludicrous. So why does the reporting still work that way?

I know the answer to that, too, and it’s a shame: Tradition and sloppiness. It’s just traditional to consider Chrysler American, and nothing will change that. Doesn’t matter where the cars are built. Doesn’t matter where the parts come from (some “GM” cars are built in Korea from almost entirely Asian parts–but because they have GM nameplates, they’re American). Bizarrely, at least when the Fremont plant was building both Toyota and GM cars, it didn’t matter if the cars came off the same assembly line. One was “American,” one was “Asian.”

(Now here’s the interesting question: Since most “Asian” cars sold in the U.S. are built in the U.S. by union autoworkers, why is it that these “Asian” cars have substantially lower defect rates and higher quality than “American” cars? Yes, “American” cars have gotten better–theyr’e almost as defect-free as Toyota and Honda were a decade ago–but so have the Japanese cars, and the Korean cars are catching up fast. You can’t blame it on the UAW. I’m sure it couldn’t be corner-cutting management…that wouldn’t be the American Way.)

Modified 1/6/06, but you can still see what I originally said: I was wrong about “union workers,” as some American plants for Japanese-owned car companies are nonunion.

Midwinter gathering: Place still uncertain

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

There will be an extremely informal gathering of (a few) C&I readers at

5 p.m., Monday, January 23, 2006, in San Antonio

Update January 9, 2006: We have a winner: The Menger Bar. See here for slightly more details.

In this post I asked for advice on possible watering holes at which we could gather, given that I’m not planning to make reservations or arrangements, just show up.

I’ve remembered a little more and done a little more looking (via the web, of course) at the places I was suggesting. They’re all a little problematic:

  • Boudro’s, probably the best option for quality of wine and like that, is really a restaurant, not a restaurant/bar, and you really need to “be seated” to order. I don’t think it will work for this purpose.
  • I now remember that, while Republic of Texas is fun, the riverwalk portion (as opposed to the inside portion) is small and busy. It may not be ideal either.
  • Menger’s bar, while historic, is both off the riverwalk and sort of an unknown. You have to really know you’re going there.

So here’s a couple of other possibilities–and I’d really love some informed feedback, before I make a decision (which will be some time next week):

  • Rio Rio Cantina/Naked Iguana saloon: I know Rio Rio has good food, and I believe (but can’t remember for sure) that there’s a pretty good size open riverwalk area.
  • Tex’s Riverwalk Sports Bar at the Hilton Palacio del Rio (my favorite chain hotel in SA, although not where I’ll be staying); the outside portion is directly off the riverwalk, and strikes me as a plausible candidate–the Hilton is very close to the convention center and Marriotts. (There’s also Ibiza patio restaurant at the Hilton, probably OK for drinks at 5 p.m., and Durty Mary’s, but the latter tends to be insanely noisy.)
  • Steers & Beers in the Rivercenter Mall–I think, but I don’t remember it all that well. (Otherwise, the mall’s mostly been conquered by chains, and Hooter’s is not a candidate!)

Feedback? Other suggestions? Right now, I’m leaning toward Tex’s. The Menger bar is still a possibility.

Oh, and if you’re coming, do let me know, with (of course) no obligation, since nothing’s being done in advance.

50-Movie All Stars Collection, Disc 5

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

It’s that time again: Another set of four movies from the good folks at TreeLine (now Mill Pond).

By the way, I noticed two things this time around:

  • Windows Media Player is now showing a name for the disc and the box picture, instead of the old “unknown disc.” That may go hand-in-hand with the animated logo with stereo music that replaced the older still logo in other boxes. (Some of the movies may have stereo soundtracks; it’s hard to be sure.)
  • When I reviewed the first 50-movie Megapack, I said they consisted of a dozen two-sided double-layer discs. That’s not quite right. I checked the raw data on this disc, and there’s about 4GB on each side: They’re single-layer sides. I guess that since the source material is VHS-quality, they can apply more compression and fit about three hours on each side without a second layer. Makes no difference as to the bargain.

Anyway, this is one where things started out really weak (although a bunch of IMDB reviewers, most of whom seem to believe in Killer Weed, would disagree) and got much stronger.

The Death of Richie, 1977, color, Paul Wendkos (dir.), Ben Gazzara, Eileen Brennan, Robbie Benson, Charles Fleisher. 1:37. [Jacket time 2:00]

I made the mistake of looking at IMDB user comments after looking up info on this movie. They mostly talk about the Oscar-caliber performances of Robbie Benson and Ben Gazzara and the apparent true story behind the movie. Unfortunately, maybe because I didn’t read the book, what I saw was a scenery-chewing performance by Benson and a reasonable interpretation of a block of wood by Gazzara. At the end of the movie, my thought was, “If the DEA didn’t pay for this, I’m surprised”—since it’s got the exact same message as Assassins of Youth: “Smoke pot and you will die.” I thought it was a pathetic example of TV movie as drug propaganda—but what do I know? Good print and sound. $0.50 purely as a propaganda piece.

Shell Game, 1975, color, Glenn Jordan (dir.), John Davidson, Joan Van Ark, Tom Atkins. 1:30 [1:12]

Just plain fun, in the way that sting movies usually are. John Davidson is a convicted-and-paroled con man working for his good-guy lawyer brother. He conducts a nicely plotted sting to get the head of a charitable organization who’s been stealing the contributions—and gets back the money as well (which, of course, goes back anonymously to the charity). Well-acted, very good print and sound; probably some holes in the logic, but entertaining enough to make a decent second feature. I doubt IMDB’s “90 minute” timing; the jacket time and actual time are both 72 minutes, and I suspect the TV movie showed in a 90-minute time slot. $1.50.

Hustling, 1975, color, Joseph Sargent (dir.), Lee Remick, Jill Clayburgh, Monte Markham, Alex Rocco, Howard Hesseman. 1:38.

Based on Gail Sheehy’s book, with Lee Remick as a Sheehy-like investigative reporter and Jill Clayburgh as the prostitute she tries to interview. Strong plot, with considerable attention to the people who really make money from call girls (e.g., the hot-sheet hotel owners). Great cast. (Howard Hesseman has a bit part, but still…) Unfortunately, the print’s dark and muddy. $1.75.

The Gun and the Pulpit, 1974, color, Daniel Petrie (dir.), Marjoe Gortner, Slim Pickens, Pamela Sue Martin, Estelle Parsons, David Huddleston. 1:14.

OK now: The best movie on the disc. Add 16 minutes and I believe you’d have a theatrical release—a well-done Western with Marjoe Gartner as a fast shooter disguised as a preacher (the jacket blurb gets it dead wrong), taking on a bully who’s terrorizing a frontier town. Gortner used to be an evangelist, and it shows; he makes a great gunman-as-preacher-with-gun. The rest of the cast is good as well. Excellent print and sound; thoroughly enjoyable. $2.

Correction: YBP/GOBI on Sunday, not Saturday

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

A small notice within “Bibs & Blather” in the current Cites & Insights says that the YBP GOBI users meeting is Saturday at 4 p.m., followed by a reception at 5 p.m.

That’s wrong. It’s Sunday at 4, reception at 5.

Sorry for the correction. For those of you likely to be there, to be sure, the info from YBP will be correct.

Freely accessible social science journals

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

That’s the name. Can anyone point me to a website or other information about the fine people/wonderful institution who/that put(s) out “Freely accessible social science journals”?

Back story: I wanted to reference a Wayne Wiegand article in the prologue I’m writing for the massive Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0” essay. I thought, “Wonder if Mountain View Public Library’s interface to its online databases has fixed the old problem–requring an explicit proxy setting that interfered with some other websites? And, if so, wonder whether American Libraries is in one of their databases?”

The answers were yes and yes: Now the interface works beautifully once given my library card number, and at least two of the databases (Expanded Academic Index ASAP and InfoTrac OneFile) include American Libraries. Within minutes, I’d verified the entry, cut-and-pasted (with modifications) the citation into the essay I was working on, and reread the article to refresh my memory.

So, what the heck, I did an ego search. Remarkable. With a straight author search, 230-odd in one, 240-odd in the other. Who woulda thought? (I tried an “about” search indirectly, first by doing a keyword search, yielding 400+ items, then by doing that keyword NOT that author. Which yielded, I think, 50 or so reviews of my books. Something wrong there, but not to worry.)

And, just for comparison, I searched Mountain View’s online catalog, since I thought the library had one or two of my books. Whoops: Zero result (I guess they must have weeded them)–but there’s the “Link+” button, to search that large and remarkable set of cooperating California public and academic libraries who will do fast loans to other libraries within the group. Wow: 19 items, admittedly with some repetition (I haven’t published 19 books); book covers for the three most recent (thanks, ALA Editions)…and, glory be, an entry for Cites & Insights

San Diego State has the ejournal in its online catalog (and thus in Link+, as do three other libraries in the group). “More information” shows that it’s available via “Freely Accessible Social Science Journals.”

So, I wonder, who produces that database or list? I owe them thanks, obviously, and I certainly appreciate their somewhat casual definition of “journal.”

But here’s the thing: neither Google nor Yahoo! nor MSN Search lead me to a website for whoever produces this particular directory. There are plenty of links, but they’re all either to journals that are linked to from places using the directory, or to sources such as SerialsSolutions’ RFQ, which includes that directory and several other “Freely accessible” directories within its set of options.

Anyone have a pointer? Or just know these folks and want to pass along my thanks?

One small resolution

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions (and was mildly fond of the “No year’s resolutions” heading in the current Cites & Insights, but sometimes an exception is in order. I actually made this resolution in December, but setting it down may help to remember it:

Don’t attack the person, attack the message (if I must attack at all).

That’s the easy part. The hard part:

When someone demeans me, uses slanderous labels, writes in a generally abusive or belittling manner in order to avoid actual discussion–don’t respond in kind.

Ignore the nonsense if possible. If it happens more than once or twice, ignore the person entirely.

Assuming this is all happening in the world of blogs and lists, one of four things will happen:

1. People will recognize that the other person is being abusive and the other person will be treated appropriately. (Least likely.)

2. The other person will burn out or at least change. Being abusive is its own punishment. Divas (of either set) don’t last long, in general. (Considerably more likely.)

3. Nobody will notice or care, and the other person will continue to thrive and prosper. The answer to which is, “Nobody ever said the world was fair.”

4. I’ll recognize that the other person was right to dismiss my argument, even if wrong to dismiss it through undermining rather than through counter-argument. (Not at all unlikely!)

I’ve used this resolution in most cases in the past, and it’s saved sleepless nights and a fair amount of anger. Making it universal is tougher, but probably worth the necessary restraint. There is a shorter version, more applicable as one passes various decade marks:

“Life’s too short.”

With that, happy new year. We marked our 28th anniversary with the usual brunch (avoiding our house during three hours of a five-hour power outage, our mild version of Northern California’s semi-annual New Year’s Flooding), and I’m looking forward to the new year.

Oh, and Seth, if it wasn’t obvious: That comment was my unlikely-to-be-kept resolution, and I still don’t use emoticons.