Friday, July 28, 2006

Censorship: The absurd and not-so-absurd

While purusing some news stories this morning, I stumbled upon a story entitled, "WWII documentary may incur indecency fines". This is the absurd part. Ken Burns is a master documentary maker and to edit the spoken word of our soldiers who offered their lives to fight for this country is just preposterous! Boooo, FCC! Howard Stern would have a fit if he heard about this and rightly so, boooooo!!!

OK, sorry about that. On to the not-so-absurd topic: DOPA, which stands for the Deleting Online Predators Act. At first I wasn't clear on what this Act was all about and just thought, "Hey if ALA says it sucks, it must suck." I read ALA's official stance on it and although I do feel it's redundant, I actually found myself sort of agreeing with parts of the DOPA. Here my two main reasons...

  • Contrary to popular belief, students WOULD still be allowed to view social networking sites, but they would be monitored to make sure they weren't "cybering" or posting inappropriate pictures (which is a 15-year-old girl's favorite MySpace pastime nowadays). Yes, this is a little "Big Brother"-like and it makes whatever adult present a baby sitter for someone else's kid, but sometimes you must admit defeat. If kids are stupid enough to become online prey, than perhaps they need a Big Brother. It's not like parents are actually going to TEACH their kids what they should and shouldn't do online; that would be crazy!

  • The filters can be turned off for adult use - nice!

  • However, there was a lot of grumbling from Democrats on the floor. Reuters reported that our own John Dingell, said "Like a lot of my colleagues, I'm going to hold my nose and vote for a bill that does nothing."

    In the same article Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said, "I'm voting for this bill to move the process along because protecting our children from online predators is a serious issue."

    He continued, "However, I don't believe it will adequately address these issues. It is overly broad, ambiguous, and the E-rate program was not designed to be the cop on the block."

    So I feel stupid now. I didn't think the DOPA thing sounded that terrible, but apparently it's a broad, noneffective piece of Senate Floor fecal matter. BUT IT WON by a vote margin of 410-15!!! I think next time Democrats don't like a piece of legislature, they should say what they mean and mean what they, rather then just oiling up the Republican machine with their own indecisiveness.

    Ah, to have only two parties, no genuine thinkers and no choices. This is American Democracy? Shoot me.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Hi Everybody!
    I just wanted to say what's up and share the few photos I have from volunteering at the ALA conference last month. A bunch of us were sent to the Algiers Branch of the New Orleans Public Library to sort through book donations. The building itself was not significantly damaged by Katrina, but its collection was. Because it was not in critical condition it became the dumping ground for about 250,ooo book donations. Most books were donated to an organization by the name of Better World Books that will sell the books and donate the profits to all the New Orleans branches. Paperbacks were given to ALA/FEMA sites for local residents, and books that were deemed "thrift" were sent away to be recycled. It was very satisfying (and fun!) to work with other librarians, students and their families and friends for a good cause. It was estimated that we got through 100,000 books in eight hours. Not bad!

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Laura Bush, Librarian(?)

    Did anybody else see the President and First Lady on Larry King last week? Someone wrote in to ask Laura Bush a question about website filtering:

    KING: Laura, let me ask you. One came in for you. “I read that you were once a librarian and I wonder what your feelings are on the provision of the Patriot Act that requires public libraries to use filters that restrict access to certain kinds of Web sites. Are you for or against this kind of censorship?”
    L. BUSH: Well, there are several issues there. There is pornography that is on the Web sites that librarians are asked to filter for children who use their computers. Obviously I’m not for censorship of any kind. But on the other hand I think librarians, just like teachers and just like parents should choose what’s appropriate for our children — for their children — to not have their children see something that’s not really appropriate for them.

    I don't really know where to start with this one so I'm leaving it open for discussion.

    The rest of the transcript can be found at:

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    The New Dictionary Entries Are Here!

    Merriam-Webster has unveiled the words they are adding to this year's dictionary. They include: mouse potato (like a couch potato, but replace computer for tv), unibrow, soul patch, himbo, empty suit, drama queen, google (as a verb), and bling. I've been trying to use all the words in one sentance.

    It would be interesting to find out what entries were removed to make room for the new ones, or what words they were considering that didn't make the cut.

    Here's the article from CNN: