Saturday, December 13, 2008

Libraries an information refuge in tough times

Link to December 13 Wausau Daily Herald article.

Central Wisconsin's xcpublic libraries are seeing more business than ever this year -- a fact that officials attribute to the tough economic times.

Marathon County Public Library Director Phyllis Christensen said the number of items checked out though October of this year -- about 800,000 -- was up 7 percent from the same time period in 2007.

The T.B. Scott Free Library in Merrill, meanwhile, has seen increased use of its computers, said Stacy Stevens, assistant director.

Both officials credited the increases to a combination of the economic recession and improved services.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Survey Says

23% - News To You

Link to Pew Research Center's The Daily Number.

As the audiences for traditional news sources declines, and online news has surged, many Americans, called Integrators (23%), are mixing old and new sources of media for their news. This sizable minority which gets news from both traditional sources and the internet, is typically a more engaged, sophisticated and a demographically sought-after audience. Net-Newsers (13%) are similar, but principally turn to the web for news, and largely eschew traditional sources. However the largest and oldest (median age: 52) segment of Americans remains Traditionalists (46%),who rarely go online for news. Another 14%, the Disengaged, stand out for their low levels of interest in news and news consumption.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Overview of Wisconsin state agency major request items

Link to Wisconsin State Legislature Legislative Fiscal Bureau report.

Direct link to Department of Public Instruction budget. (Library items found in "Administrative and Other Funding" section, starting on page 150.

Survey Says

"19% - Podcasts Proliferate" the daily number at the Pew Research Center.

As gadgets with digital audio capability proliferate, the number of internet users downloading podcasts has risen from 12% in August 2006 to 19% today. Still, podcasting has yet to become a fixture in the lives of internet users, as only 17% of those who have download podcasts do so on a typical day. Men are more likely than women to download podcasts, and internet users under 50 years old are significantly more likely to do so than older users. Internet users with a broadband connection and those with six years of internet experience are also significantly more likely to download podcasts.

A.V. Club Readers Choose Their Favorites

Link to December 10 post, "The best music of 2008".

Or, "How to Feel Ignorant in 3 Easy Clicks".

Of course, what would you expect from someone who's lately been wallowing in the music of the 1940s and 1950s? (Courtesy of Sirius/XM.)

Getting from Point A to Point B

Point A.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Mouse Turns 40

Link to December 9 MaximumPC post, "The Mouse Turns 40, Still Best with At Least 2 Buttons".

It's hard to imagine, but the computer mouse celebrates its 40th birthday today, making the rodent susceptible to premature over the hill jokes. The one-button wooden mouse, which was built by Bill English, was first used by Douglas Engelbart on this day 40 years ago in a demonstration at the Fall Joint Computer Conference (FJCC). Dr. Engelbart showed how the new input device could be used to clip text files, copy and paste, and how it could come in handy on computer networks.

Beach Reading They're Not

Recently, I've been paging through the demanding 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It's a hefty volume, one that's difficult to balance on your chest while lying in bed. After a few minutes last night, I was experiencing shortness of breath.

As you can see from the titles highlighted in boldface below -- entries from of the year I was born and the year I graduated from high school -- I'm a bit derelict in scheduling quality reading time. (Lately, I've been too busy listening to all of the Myron Bolitar "private-eye" novels.)

In a later post, I'm going to make it much easier for everyone and offer up the 11 books you must read before you die. (I don't think any of us is in the mood for zeros right now anyway.) And since they'll be books I've already read, I won't have to worry about a guilt trip. That will be directed at you.

Books published in 1949 among the 1001.
I've noted the current holdings and activity of LINK libraries.

1984 (George Orwell)
75 copies in LinkCat.

The Man with the Golden Arm (Nelson Algren) Saw the movie.
6 copies linked to 3 records in LinkCat; none is checked out.

Kingdom of this World (Alego Carpentier)
Madison Public Library owns the only copy; not checked out.

The Heat of the Day (Elizabeth Bowen)
8 copies in LinkCat; 1 checked out.

The Case of Comrade Tulayev (Victor Serge)
No copies in LinkCat.

Love in a Cold Climate (Nancy Mitford)
5 copies in LinkCat; 2 are checked out.

Books published in 1968

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Tom Wolfe)
4 in LinkCat, 3 owned by Madison; 2 checked out.

Chocky (John Wyndham)
No copies in LinkCat.

The Quest for Christa T. (Christa Wolf)
Madison owns the only copy, and it's in storage.

A Kestrel for a Knave (Barry Hines)
No copies in LinkCat.

In Watermelon Sugar (Richard Brautigan)
1 copy + 7 anthologies in LinkCat, all but 2 owned by Madison; none is checked out.

The German Lesson (Siegfried Lenz)
3 copies in LinkCat; 2 checked out.

Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid (Malcolm Lowry)
No copies in LinkCat.

Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep? (Philip K. Dick)
10 copies linked to 2 records in LinkCat + 3 anthologies; 5 are checked out.

2001: A Space Odyssey (Arthur C. Clarke) Seen the movie multiple times.
32 copies linked to 4 records in LinkCat; 1 checked out.

And the winner is.......Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

In addition to my list of 11, I'll let you know if I find a 1001 Books year in which I have a respectable track record.

Madison's Sequoya Branch Library's Grand Opening

Link to December 8 Capital Times post, "City cuts ribbon on rebuilt Sequoya Library". (Includes pics. I'll be taking some of my own in the near future.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Best Books of 2008



Those Dang Filters

Link to December 8 MaximumPC post, "UK: Access to Wikipedia Hampered Due to Pornography Filtering System".

Wikipedia clearly is among the most innocuous websites and one can not imagine it being blocked by a child pornography filtering mechanism. However, the improbable has just occurred in the UK. The whole problem began when an image of a Scorpions album prompted Internet Watch Foundation’s Cleanfeed child pornography filtering system - used by many of the leading UK ISPs - to block the particular page.

You can find the offending album cover here.

Are You a Real Geek?

Check out this MaximumPC post.

Back in our September 2008 issue, we published a list of 9 Skills Every Nerd Needs – a lighthearted examination of the essential abilities Maximum PC readers should have in their geek arsenal. We still stand by that list, but we were somewhat one-upped last month when we saw that Gizmodo had since run its own list of 50 key geek skills. Their list was very respectable, but we thought that we could do better by not only expanding and refining our original story, but actually teaching you these skills. The highest echelon of geeks will be able to do everything in this list, and this is by no means a full categorization of the complete geek skillset – only what we consider to be the most indispensable abilities. Have anything to add to our list? Post it in the comments!

Retiring Guy fails the test miserably.

Survey Says

Adults Are Players Too.

Link to Pew Research Center report.

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Excerpt: More than half of American adults age 18 and older (53%) play video games, and about one-in-five adults (21%) play everyday or almost everyday. While the number of video gamers among adults is substantial, it is still well under the number of teens who play. Fully 97% of teens play video games.

What Happens When Their Paths Cross?

From the New York Times fiction best sellers list, for the week ending Nov. 22.

10. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski, (Ecco, $25.95.) A mute takes refuge with three dogs in the Wisconsin woods after his father's death.

16. The Bodies Left Behind, by Jeffery Deaver. (Simon & Schuster, $26.95.) A sheriff's deputy is hunted in the Wisconsin woods by hit men after she finds the scene of their crime.

If this is a publishing trend, here's a possible story idea.

And then there's this painful episode of 4 years ago, which would seem to invite a book-length analysis.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Timothy Egan Sounds Off on Joe the Plumber's Book

Timothy Egan

Link to December 6 New York Times op-ed essay, "Typing Without a Clue".

The unlicensed pipe fitter known as Joe the Plumber is out with a book this month, just as the last seconds on his 15 minutes are slipping away. I have a question for Joe: Do you want me to fix your leaky toilet?

I didn’t think so. And I don’t want you writing books. Not when too many good novelists remain unpublished. Not when too many extraordinary histories remain unread. Not when too many riveting memoirs are kicked back at authors after 10 years of toil. Not when voices in Iran, North Korea or China struggle to get past a censor’s gate.

My sentiments exactly!

(Too) Controversial Display at Oberlin Public Library

McGuckin's 2006 envelope-pushing display

Link to (Lorain County) Chronicle-Telegram article, "Fallen Santa display decked by library".

The exhibit, by conceptual artist Keith McGuckin, shows a legless Santa being pushed down some stairs by a homicidal Christmas tree.

Keith talks about the incident.

Book Group as Soap Opera

Illustration by Gary Hovland for the New York Times

Link to December 7 New York Times article, "Fought Over Any Good Books Lately?"

You may know them by their type.

The Rambler. The person whose opinion far outlasts the natural interest of others.

The Pedant. The person who never met a literary reference she did not yearn to sling.

The Ayatollah. The person who chooses all of the books and leads all of the discussions.

The Drama Queen. The person who turns the discussion into a personal therapy session.