Archive for March 18th, 2013

Mystery Collection Disc 35

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Dishonored Lady, 1947, b&w. Robert Stevenson (dir.), Hedy Lamarr, Dennis O’Keefe, John Loder, William Lundigan, Margaret Hamilton. 1:25.

Reviewed in May 2008 as part of another set; I didn’t watch it again. Here’s the review: Hedy Lamarr is a successful magazine editor by day, a love-’em-and-leave-’em type at night, and it’s killing her. She drops out, moves to Greenwich Village to paint, falls in love with a scientist in the same building (O’Keefe)—and can’t escape an old paramour. Murder ensues, with a solid attempt to frame her. The naïve scientist is disillusioned, but things work out. Fine drama, well acted. Downgraded for a noisy soundtrack, but still worth $1.25.

Whistle Stop, 1946. b&w. Léonide Moguy (dir.), George Raft, Ava Gardner, Victor McLaglen, Tom Conway, Jorja Curtright. 1:25 [1:21]

Not really a mystery, but an interesting film. A woman (Ava Gardner) who’s been a success in Chicago returns to her hometown—a whistle stop. She still owns a house there, to which she returns, greeted by the family she’s been renting it to—including the son, who’s an old flame who goes out every night drinking and (small-stakes) gambling and doesn’t seem to have a job. (The father’s the station master.) There’s also the suave and maybe overslick owner of a local bar & grill, who has a thing for the woman—and who doesn’t get along at all with the son (George Raft). Oh, and the son’s supposed to have another girlfriend, who he basically ignores in favor of the woman.

Various plot bits, various arguments, winding up with a botched burglary/murder effort involving the friendly bartender—and a real murder that’s an attempt to frame the son. Thanks to the bartender having superhuman abilities of a sort (I won’t give away the ending, but it’s a trifle implausible), it all works out.

And, oddly enough, it’s pretty good—even though the chemistry between Raft and Gardner isn’t there, Raft’s character isn’t particularly likable, and some of the plot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. A bit missing here and there, but overall I’ll give it $1.50.

Dr. Kildare’s Strange Case, 1940, b&w. Harold S. Bucquet (dir.), Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore, Laraine Day, Shepperd Strudwick, Samuel S. Hinds, Walter Kingsford. 1:17 [1:15].

It’s a little tough to approach a 1940 medical mystery with millennial standards. Young Dr. Kildare’s brave move to save a patient who’s “lost his mind” while surviving a brain surgery that the patient explicitly refused (a different surgeon) by injecting him with a massive dose of insulin in the middle of the night…well, Malpractice City sounds about right. But these were more innocent times.

Good cast. Decent acting. Plots within plots within… It moves right along. Entertaining enough if you don’t start wincing. I’ll give it $1.25.

Poppies are Also Flowers (or Las Flores del Diablo), 1966, color. Terence Young (dir.), Omar Sharif, Senta Berger, Stephen Boyd, Yul Brynner, Angie Dickinson, Rita Hayworth, Trevor Howard, Trini Lopez, E.G. Marshall, Marcello Mastroianni, Anthony Quayle, Eli Wallach, Gilbert Roland, Grace Kelly, Harold Sakata, Hugh Griffith. 1:40 [1:34]

I spotted trouble right at the beginning, with a Serious Woman telling me how Important the drug problem was and how the UN was involved and how so much of it revolved around that innocent little flower with not much smell. Yes, that’s right, it’s a movie with a message. Also an all-star cast, presumably working for minimal wages because it’s a Message. Xerox sponsored it at the UN’s request.

Too bad it’s also not great. I would go so far as to say that much of it doesn’t make any sense, but that might be too strong. There’s lots of action, in the Iranian outlands (back when Iran was one of the Good Guys, ruled by a friendly despot), in Monaco, in France, on a cargo ship, on a yacht and finally on a train—but it seemed more helter-skelter than anything else. Maybe the missing six minutes would have helped.

The “color” didn’t help. I’m sure it was filmed in color, and sometimes there were some colors in what’s on the disc, mostly reds and browns, occasionally—very occasionally—pale greens and deep blues, maybe even once or twice a little yellow. But at times it was pure black-and-white and there was never either a bright color or a proper flesh tone: Time has not been kind to this flick. Oddly, other than the mostly-missing color, the print is excellent—full VHS quality.

Even given the earnestness, I can’t give it more than a mediocre $1.00.

Coping with the Numbers: Worth Doing? (Part 2)

Monday, March 18th, 2013

A few weeks ago, I had “One quick question for librarians” and received a couple of positive responses.

This is the next step–offering a basic outline of the proposed book, in the hopes of getting more feedback, either positive or negative.

I anticipate a down-to-earth book, not intended to make readers statistical whizzes but intended to make them better able to recognize bullshit misleading statistics when they see them, maybe more familiar with the basics of “statistics” (really numbers more than anything fancy enough to be called statistics), and definitely able to gather their own comparative information from the big national databases without investing in new tools or needing to become statistical gurus.

[Part 4 would, for each of the two library categories, take a possible example of something your library might want as background and show, step by step, how to do it with the tools you probably already have.]

Worth doing? I’d like to think so, but unless I have reason to believe that at least one hundred and preferably a few hundred library folks also think so, it’s not economically feasible.


The Mythical Average Library: Coping with the Numbers–Outline

Part 1. Problems with Statistics and Graphs

  1. Misleading Graphs
  2. Misleading Samples: When 30 is Not Enough
  3. Exaggerated Exactness
  4. When Normal Distribution Doesn’t Work
  5. Doing it Right: Transparency and Ethics
  6. Fair Presentations and Coping with Outliers

Part 2. The Basics of Real-World Number-Handling

  1. The Terms You Need to Know
  2. The Other Terms You’ll Encounter
  3. The Tests You Can Probably Ignore
  4. The Tools I’m Using for This Book
  5. Mostly Numbers, Not Really Statistics

Part 3. The Real Complexity of Library Numbers

  1. Public Libraries
  2. Academic Libraries

Part 4. How-To: Getting the Most out of Public Datasets

  1. Using Excel to Expand Your Public Library Awareness (using IMLS)
  2. Using Excel to Expand Your Academic Library Awareness (using NCES)

Part 5. Beyond Numbers

  1. When You Need Actual Statistics



Intended length: <200 pages.

To be made available as an ebook (at least PDF, probably Kindle, maybe EPUB) and print book; prices set at $8 above costs. (Which would suggest $9.99 for ebooks, probably around $18 for trade paperback, $28 for hardback–but since the length and outline are both subject to change, so are the prices.)

Feedback of any sort, either as comments here or as email to, would be greatly appreciated.

Texas public libraries

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Another post commenting on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13)–now available as a $9.99 Kindle ebook or $21.95 paperback with ISBN 978-1481279161 on Amazon, along with the usual Lulu options. Note that Lulu prices for the paperback and hardback versions are now lower.

While the 537 profiled libraries in Texas (27 omitted) are distributed throughout spending levels, most are on the low side, with 44% in the bottom two brackets and 71% in the bottom four (compared to 39% overall). Median benefit ratios are consistently above 4.3 without adjusting for Texas’ 90.5% cost of living, and only one bracket falls just below 4 (to 3.95) adjusted.

Circulation is on the low side, with 22% circulating at least eight items per capita (compared to 50% overall). Only 30% of the libraries report at least five patron visits per capita (compared to 54% overall), only 35% report at least 0.3 program attendance per capita (compared to 54% overall), and PC use is better but still somewhat on the low side, with 32% reporting at least 1.3 uses per capita (compared to 43% overall).

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count % Outliers
<700 5 0.9% 5
700-1,149 15 2.8%
1,150-1,649 25 4.7% 3
1,650-2,249 27 5.0% 1
2,250-2,999 27 5.0% 3
3,000-3,999 49 9.1% 2
4,000-5,299 39 7.3%
5,300-6,799 37 6.9% 1
6,800-8,699 43 8.0% 1
8,700-11,099 43 8.0% 3
11,100-14,099 25 4.7% 3
14,100-18,499 31 5.8%
18,500-24,999 32 6.0%
25,000-34,499 34 6.3% 2
34,500-53,999 42 7.8% 3
54,000-104,999 24 4.5%
105,000-4.1 mill. 39 7.3%

Circulation per capita and spending per capita

Circulation per capita correlates strongly (0.67) with spending per capita.

Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category