Monthly Archives: February 2007

Indulgence

If you’re Catholic, Heaven or Hell are not the only options once you die.  You can also go to Purgatory.  (You were once able to go to Limbo, but that’s another story.)  For those of you not familiar with Catholic dogma, Purgatory is Heaven’s Waiting Room.  If you’re not bad enough to go to Hell, but not quite good enough to go to Heaven, you go to Purgatory and think about your sins for a while.  Once you’re deemed worthy, you’re welcomed into Heaven.

Some enterprising medieval Church guy came up with a brilliant (if unethical) solution to Purgatory – Indulgences.  You can purchase an Indulgence and get out of some or all of your stay in Purgatory.  The Church was doing big business in Indulgences for a while, until the Reformation caught up with them.

The Church hasn’t sold Indulgences since the 16th Century…..but the concept is alive and well and living in Hollywood.

The presenters at the Oscars this year received the 21st Century equivalent of the Indulgence: a pass worth 100,000  lbs of carbon reduction from TerraPass.

TerraPass is a leading retailer of carbon offsets, which are a way of funding clean energy projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our mission is to put simple tools for fighting climate change in the hands of as many citizens as possible.

So…you can still fly the personal jet, but by purchasing these credits, you can still feel smug about your eco-responsibility.

Coming soon: The Inquisition.  Not a believer?  We can fix that.

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Global Warming?

OK, let me just say from the start that I am not a believer in the whole global warming hoo-ha.   I think the planet ebbs and flows, and we’re in a period of one or the other.  Whatever is happening may be due in part to SUVs, or cow flatulence, or whatever…..or it may not.  (Frankly, if flatulence is a part of the problem, I have a feeling the blame may lay with Ginger, our Golden Retriever.  That girl can clear a room.)

That being said, we’re just now cleaning up from a monster winter storm that hit the area last weekend.  It was a great time to sit in front of the fireplace, surrounded by dogs, with a good movie (thanks, Netflix!) and watch the swirling snow. It really piled up, too.

Drifts

We’re about to be hit with another 6-12 inches tomorrow.  Winter in Minnesota is not for sissies.

And as to global warming?  Those of us who live north of the 43rd Parallel are all for it.

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Perspective

Co-worker Barb has a wonderful piece this afternoon about the scrotum kerfuffle.

Minnesota Media Specialist Tom Ross wrote a thoughtful and thought-provoking letter to the MEMO (Minnesota Educational Media Organization) list, revealing what is truly important to him…..and worrying about a word like this isn’t even close.  Barb got Tom’s permission to share the letter.  It’s stunning.

Please take a look.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."

Shift happens

Buddy Charlie pointed towards this amazing piece this morning.  Well worth the viewing.

No wonder we’re so frazzled.

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Irony alert

HOUSE HEARING ON ‘WARMING OF THE PLANET’ CANCELED AFTER ICE STORM
HEARING NOTICE
Tue Feb 13 2007 19:31:25 ETThe Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality hearing scheduled for Wednesday, February 14, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building has been postponed due to inclement weather. The hearing is entitled “Climate Change: Are Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Human Activities Contributing to a Warming of the Planet?”

The hearing will be rescheduled to a date and time to be announced later.

Heh.

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February is the longest month.

Bleah.

It wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s still sub-zero.  The weather is supposed to take a turn this weekend, with a forecasted high in the upper 20’s.  It’ll feel positively balmy.

So forgive the lack of pithy postings of late.  Cabin fever has set in with a vengeance.

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Survivor, Finland

Librarian John Kirriemuir lives in Berneray in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and writes a charming blog called Silversprite.  This morning he’s blogged about the winter weather there, and how the attitudes are very different from those of their neighbors, the Finns.

Given the Nordic nature of much of Minnesota, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised when we take our current weather in stride.  For the record, -25 F. (which has been the low temperature at night lately) is the equivalent of -31 C.

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Visual Search

There’s an interesting new search engine out there called PageBull. It displays your results visually, with a snapshot of the website. It really gives you a better idea of what the site is all about, and whether it’s what you’re looking for.

I did a search for Rochester, MN and got this:

Cool.

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Survivor

It’s -5 here in southeastern Minnesota,  and we’re one of the warmer parts of the state.

With the wind chill, it’s -23.

And it’s snowing.

Survivor: Figi is for wimps.   Survivor: International Falls – now THAT’S a show.

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Socially Uplifting

DBF has a job whose duties include staying up-to-date on urban policy, among many, many other topics.  As a result, she tends to read journals that I don’t.  She sent this wonderful link this morning, from a journal called “City Journal.

The article talks about the Queens Library in New York, Carnegie’s vision, and how these libraries are still doing the wonderful work they’ve been doing for over 100 years.   It’s a long read, but well worth the time.  Take a look.

The article discusses at length the library’s service to immigrant populations:

The directors, who shared the industrialist’s philanthropic vision of presenting opportunity to all comers, realized that one of the library’s key mandates would be to assimilate immigrants. The branches wooed newcomers unfamiliar with free public libraries, posting ads at local movie houses advising that “the public library is the working man’s college. Use it.” The libraries circulated flyers in Italian and Polish and advertised the availability of “books for businessmen” at ferry terminals and books “for mothers” at the Astoria milk station, recounts Jeffrey Kroessler in his centennial history of the Queens Library, Lighting the Way.

This, back in the 1800’s.   We sometimes forget, in the heat of arguments about new populations, that we are a nation of immigrants.  Queens hasn’t forgotten that, and have simply changed to reflect the new kids on the block.

Because nearly half of the residents of Queens are foreign-born, one of the library’s most practical services is to help the borough’s African, Asian, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern immigrants assimilate into American society, just as it helped German, Italian, and Eastern European immigrants become citizens a century ago. The library is particularly effective at this task, because it recognizes a key truth lost on many contemporary immigrant-advocacy groups: newcomers can’t succeed in America unless they speak English. Hence the library’s wildly popular, and free, English-for-Speakers-of-a-Second-Language program—the largest such initiative in the nation, serving 3,000 students annually. Each semester, the program must turn people away, sometimes two prospective students for every one who gets a slot.

How wonderful.  By the way, this is a good thing to mention to people who today question why the library is buying books in (fill in the language here.)  Unfortunately, the work these libraries are doing somehow didn’t reach the Mayor, who decided to cut funding:

But despite his plans to do more to fight poverty, Mayor Bloomberg has in fact cut the library’s budget, so that only 30 percent of its branches can now stay open on at least one weekend day, compared with over 90 percent before the cut. Critics would argue that the library isn’t an antipoverty program, since it depends on self-selection: people have to want to do well for the library to work. But to combat poverty, why not start by helping the many poor people who want to help themselves, like those thronging the libraries of Queens?

There are a couple of stories here that can be discussed at length.  The one that leaps out at me, however, is this: If we’re doing such wonderful work (and we are) and helping so many people (and we are) and effecting such positive change in people’s lives (and we do)…….WHY DON’T THE PEOPLE WHO CREATE THE BUDGETS KNOW THIS????

Given that we have a serious problem in this country with cities and counties cutting library services – or even closing their libraries completely –  I would suggest that this is something that we need to fix.  Immediately.  We need to find a way to tell our story, to let people know what we do and why it matters, and to find a way to let the people who hold the purse strings know that we’re not just nice to have – we’re essential.

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