Monthly Archives: August 2011

I am a child of the library

I really am. When I was a kid, we had few books at home, and the library was two blocks away. Before kindergarten, so when I was less than five or six, I had worked out a route by which I would take my wagon to the library, crossing our urban streets away from the dangerous corners, to the library, pick up a pile of books and return the last pile. Then I would read them and bring them back.

After a summer of doing this they ran out of books in the children’s section, which was not very large (this was the small branch library on Delaware by the Post Office, for those of you who know mid 20th Century Albany Geography). So I started using the adult section.

Science books, travelers accounts, and eventually law books. the law books were important because my friend Kirk and I planned to get jobs, when we grew up, as superheros, and we felt that knowledge of the law would be important.

One day they changed librarians and the new librarian would no longer believe my story about taking books out for my brother, and I was no longer allowed to borrow books that were not in the children’s section. That upset me and ever since then I’ve had a hard time trusting or liking librarians. This could be why I have a substantial collection of my own books. But I still used the library all the time. Most of the schools I went to until 7th grade did not have libraries in them.

Then I went to The Milne School, and it had a very impressive library for a high school (in those days) which included first class murals that were, and probably still are, on the National Register.

I am a child of the library because that is where I have learned everything I know else-wise from experience. Yes, it is true and ironic: I’m a teacher who never learned very much in a classroom.

I was distressed to discover several years ago that almost all K-12 libraries in the US are now called “media centers.” This could be one of the reasons that it is so easy for irresponsible legislators, governors, and mayors to allow libraries to fester, shrink, and ultimately close. People grow up not really relating to the word “library.”

Well, that was all introduction to this video that I think you’ll enjoy. I have to admit, when Piers Cawley asked the audience about their recent library use, I assumed he was talking about perl libraries (or other programming libraries). I wonder how many in the audience thought the same thing.

Have a look, and sing along:

Continue reading I am a child of the library

A few connected items related to the coming apocalypse

And I’m only half joking:

Three degrees warming doubles risk of civil war

Global patterns of civil conflict are directly associated with planetary-scale climate change. Specifically in tropical countries, the risk of civil war have just been shown to double in warmer El Niño years (to about 6% risk per country per year) compared to cooler El Niña years (when the risk is about 3%).

A Not so Splendid Table

I love NPR, though I’m not a regular Splendid Table listener. This morning’s show featured a guest who claimed that all GMO’s are bad with no potential benefit to feed the developing world. That’s simply not true….

A book you probably already know about: Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food

With the world’s population projected to grow some 50 percent by midcentury, rigorous agricultural planning becomes indispensable to forestall the onset of ecological and human disaster. Ronald and Adamchak, a wife-husband team from the University of California at Davis, combine the training and insights of a geneticist and the know-how of a committed organic farmer. They examine the often-passionate debate about genetically engineered food and how it may affect the food supply of the future, meticulously dissecting arguments for and against such application of science.

Editing PDF’s

Linux probably has a lot more FOSS tools for editing PDF’s than other platforms. ImageMagick will do basic manipulation from the command line. But for a GUI interactive kind of editing, you should look at PDFedit

sudo apt-get install pdfedit

You can do what I’m pretty sure is one of the most often required tasks: Take a page or two out of an existing PDF file and put a page or two into an existing PDF file. Like when you mark up one page of a document, and need to scan the marked-up page and stick it back in the original, replacing the pre-marked up page.

It worked great for me!

Created Equal

I am not specifically recommending the book Created Equal becuase I’ve never seen it up close and cannot vouch for its qualities (and it is not cheap) but it was mentioned, with several photographs from the book, here, some time ago.

In Created Equal, photographer Mark Laita pairs images that are in some way “opposite” (though it is not always the case, in my opinion) such as this one of a country fair livestock show contestant and a Cajun guy with his gator, or a ballerina and a boxer, or a homeless man and a real estate developer.

Might be a good coffee table book for the person who has everything except a lot of social dichotomies.

(Photo from publisher’s publicity material.)