My library school alma mater under Emergency Preparedness?

Back in mid-October, I got this email from Phil Eppard, chair of the Department of Information Science, on the listserv of my alma mater at UAlbany:

“I am writing to inform you that the Information Science Department is moving from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences to the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity (CEHC). This move is the culmination of discussions between the provost, the deans of the two colleges, and the faculty of the department. We see great opportunities in locating the department in this emerging new college, for which information technology and management, information access and use, and information literacy and analysis are all key areas of study and concern.

“This relocation of the department will have no impact on students and their academic programs. On the contrary, we hope to be able to improve our course offerings and student services as we are integrated into CEHC.”

I posted it on Facebook, musing on what I thought of it. My initial thought was of feeling disquieted. As one friend wrote: “Librarians as a profession are guardians of free speech and free access to information. I can think of a bunch of my former professors who must be turning over in their graves.”

One response, from a relative of mine, believed “all data services were already under the homeland security umbrella.” But I noted: “The ethos of the librarian, at least for most of us, is to protect privacy. When the so-called USA PATRIOT Act was passed in 2001, it was the librarians who made it difficult for the government to get patron records. ‘The ALA believes certain sections of the USA PATRIOT Act endanger constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.'”

The new dean put on a happy spin: “On behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of [CEHC], I would like to welcome you! We are excited that you are joining us! So much of what we do in CEHC is highly correlated with the work you do.

“There are limitless cool synergies we can explore together! Understanding how data become useful information, how to present information in an understandable way, operationalizing big data, analytics, visualization, remote sensoring querying and searching, predictive analytics, defining the role of society, community, and libraries, and developing and using information technology are just a few areas of intersection and collaboration I hope we can continue to develop.

“On a personal note, I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with you as we continue to build out CEHC. As we expand our offerings in intelligence analysis, smart cities/internet of things, crisis communications, extreme weather planning, advanced technologies, or social media I see nothing but exciting opportunities for our students, faculty researchers, creative staff, and operational partners. I also see information science as one of the growing ‘demand’ degrees with enormous job growth and research potential. Come join us and help us make a difference.”

As one buddy asked, “Is this supposed to make Emergency Preparedness cooler or to make libraries less cool? Or maybe an attempt to bring attention to the fact that a college of Emergency Preparedness exists…” Well, I didn’t know. And another: “Is it just me or is Library/Information Science always something of an orphan? (from a UAlbany MLS graduate, back in the day when the library was part of the Rockefeller College, IIRC)” No, it’s not just you.

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Thanksgiving 1987

turkeyThe Thanksgiving of 1987 I had just started dating someone less than a month earlier. Her plan was to go to her mother’s house, about an hour away. My plan had been – well, I had no particular plan, which had been my m.o. for much of the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. So I went with her.

This was at a big old country house, and 20-odd people were to share the meal. Meeting that many strangers at one time was not my favorite situation. Among other things, I’m terrible at remembering the names of that many people in a compressed period of time; they don’t wear name tags.

My general solution for dealing with stressful situations is Being Useful. In addition to making some chitchat, I probably set the table, and almost certainly answered the door when newcomers arrived.

I did none of the cooking, and with four or five people in the kitchen, I had no desire to be in there. After dinner, my Being Useful really kicked in, as I volunteered to wash the dishes. This involved soaking the pans, and then hand washing the bowls, plates, silverware – no dishwasher here – then wash the pans at the end.

And that was fine; I LIKE washing dishes. Maybe it’s a water sign thing. I’m sure I had help, with someone drying the dishes and putting them away.

If you’re ever in a gathering of folks you don’t know, try Being Useful. It’s seen as helpful, rather than antisocial.

November 22 always means one thing to me: JFK

I’ve mentioned before the fact that JFK assassination records were scheduled to be released by the National Archives by October 26, 2017. Like most people my age, the killing of JFK in 1963 is among the most recalled events in our then-young lives, maybe the first significant event external to ourselves and our families.

When the current regime announced the impending release of the last documents, I was relieved. To have suppressed them, as rumors suggested, would have only energized the conspiracy theorists.

But then they actually decided to hold back some 200 documents, thousands of pages, for another six months to allow the FBI, CIA, et al to make the case that they should remain under lock and key. The regime cited unspecified “national security concerns,” an argument Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, said was “amazing… What possible national security interests are still at risk from an event that happened 54 YEARS AGO?”

I can see where there could be some embarrassment. In fact, we’ve already seen that in the material that’s been released. Lee Harvey Oswald was already on the radar of law enforcement. There had been credible threats on the life of JFK. J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI head, was livid about the shooting of Oswald, who was in police custody, by Jack Ruby, as there were credible threats against him.

Pretty much since the Warren Commission Report was excerpted in my local newspaper – I STILL have the black 3-ring binder with the clippings glued to lined school paper – I have wanted to know more. What WAS Oswald doing in Mexico a few months before the shooting?

The Boston Globe noted that the 2,800 records released so far “offer insights into his death that were previously hidden from the public. They help paint a more complete picture of Lee Harvey Oswald and share previously undisclosed details about his background, and they provide color and reaction from the days following Kennedy’s death.

“The records released so far may not confirm or disprove any of the many conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy’s assassination, but they begin to piece together parts of unknown history and have made some people even more anxious for the remaining documents to be released.” And that includes me.

The JFK Assassination: A Cast of Characters.

T is for transportation

Early in October, I needed to get back from my hometown of Binghamton, NY back to my home in Albany in order to see The Color Purple at Proctors Theatre in nearby Schenectady. I stopped at the nice newish transportation hub in Binghamton, which had been spruced up a whole lot since I last took a bus out of Binghamton.

Unfortunately, it closed at 9:45 p.m., and I was there at 10:30. Worse, when I got online, I discovered that the bus I wanted, which leaves at 4:15 a.m.(!), was sold out.

Still, my friend got up at 3:15 to take me to the bus station; now THAT is a true pal. A bus heading for Syracuse, north, but a couple hours west of Albany, shows up around 4:15. The last time I needed to buy a ticket when the station was closed I would buy it from the driver.

Apparently, the procedure now is that he holds my ID, drives me to Syracuse, and THEN I buy a ticket for the trip I’ve already taken, and get my ID back. Then I buy a ticket for the bus from Syracuse to Albany, which was showing up at 6:30, only a half hour after I arrived; cool.

Syracuse has an even nicer transportation hub. I could have caught the train from there, if necessary.

I liked this: a young woman was heading back to college in western Massachusetts from Rochester, west of Syracuse. Unfortunately, she overslept and missed her bus. Fortunately, her father drove her the nearly 90 miles from Rochester to Syracuse in the middle of the night. She was very appreciative.
***
When I ride my bike, I ride along the right side of the road, the way I am supposed to. At least a couple times a week, I see a guy bearing right at me, because he’s going on the left side, usually going the wrong way on a one-way street to boot.

Almost every time this happens, he yells, “You’re on the wrong side!” To which I yell back, “You are incorrect.” Short of throwing page 91 of the New York State driver’s manual, which reads, “Where there is [no bicycle lane, bicyclists] must remain near the right curb or edge of the road or on a right shoulder of the road, to prevent interference with other traffic,” there’s not much I can do.

For ABC Wednesday

Cosby, Weinstein, Nassar, C.K., etc.

Some random, still evolving thoughts: A friend of mine, a male, not so incidentally, wrote recently: “Don’t try to defend sex offenders just because you identify with them or like their work. Just don’t. Let their power and the difficulty in prosecuting them for their crimes keep them warm at night, not your ambivalent acquiescence to the horrors they have committed.”

This is, of course, the right and proper position to take. Yet I do understand how it can be a hard one to follow because it was difficult for me to believe the forerunner of the Mark Halperins/Kevin Spaceys, et al, could have been capable of the things he was accused of doing. That is, until woman after woman repeated the quite similar modus operandi of Dr. William H. Cosby, Jr., whose comedy routines I still remember.

Still, I had hoped, despite me labeling this as a rape culture four years ago, that the problem was not as toxic as it has turned out to be. As a clinical psychiatrist was discussing on one of the morning shows, this pattern of behavior isn’t about sex, it’s about power, tied up with shame and a sometimes perverse use of religion, religion.

While I find all the allegations troubling, some I find even worse than others. For sheer numbers of reported, Harvey Weinstein’s not only among the top predators, but he used an Israeli intelligence firm and contracting with a prestigious law firm to cover it up; both entities have since apologized.

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman is just the latest gymnast to accuse the team doctor, Larry Nassar, of sexual assault, joining over 130 other women. “Nassar, who is now in jail, worked with the US women’s national gymnastics team for more than two decades. He pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault, but did plead guilty to child pornography charges.”

The Roy Moore story is troubling, and infuriating. He is running to be a US Senator in Alabama in December. His defense is shaky and contradictory. Worse, some of his allies have concocted a response that, if he DID date teenagers when he was in his thirties and molested a 14-year-old, well, Joseph was much older than the Virgin Mary. WHAT? That doesn’t even make theological sense.

As Mark Evanier noted, at least Louis C.K. has accepted responsibility for his own sordid actions. “He not only said he did it, he seems to have even had a little actual understanding of why he did it and why it was wrong.” On the other hand, as someone once said to BoJack Horseman, “you’re not the good guy here.”

You know who needs to work on this issue? Members of Congress, who have been immune to many of the sexual harassment laws they’ve passed for others to follow.

There are SO many of these allegations, I cannot keep track. Cinefamily, an entity I had not heard of, recently shut down. And of course, these types of behavior take place all the time by people who are not famous.

Moore defends himself saying that if these events happened decades ago, why are they are coming out now? Because the individual victim, woman or man, is not usually believed, and it has taken a tsunami of brave people speaking out for some others to risk saying MeToo. For now, here’s why do women make themselves attractive, which you should just read.

Tax plan will increase debt, benefit wealthy

This is a Letter to the Editor, written by Roger L. Green of Scottsbluff, NE and published on November 17, 2017 in the Grand Island Independent. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

It is impossible to explain economic policy in soundbites. Many voters hear support or opposition to tax reform based on which party is proposing it. The last big tax reform occurred in 1986 and was bipartisan. Both parties negotiated the terms. Open hearings were held and both parties made concessions.

The current disagreements are based on classical versus Keynesian approaches. Classical economics asserted that the economy was self-correcting and there was no need for government intervention. The Keynesian idea suggested the economy was like an elevator that followed the business cycle up and down, but could get stuck in the basement at low levels of employment, income and output. During the Great Depression the government used tax cuts and infrastructure spending to create jobs. World War II spending jolted the economy into a growth pattern.

Tying Obamacare to tax reform by ending the individual mandate threatens the existing health care system. Taking $320 billion from Medicare and Medicaid to provide tax cuts primarily for the rich and well connected will not create new jobs when unemployment is at 4.1 percent. This approach would ultimately result in 13 million Americans without insurance over the next 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has stated that this will raise insurance premiums by 10 percent per year for the next 10 years. So, the government robs Peter (the little guy) to pay Paul (big campaign donors).

The Tax Reform Plan will increase the national debt by $1.5 trillion and $1 trillion will go to corporate tax cuts, $300 billion to wealthy individual taxpayers and $200 billion to the middle class.

As for tax burdens, American taxes as a percentage of the gross national product is lower than 34 other countries. The corporate tax rate is currently 35 percent. However, loopholes reduce the rate to about 14 percent. Loopholes, such as carried interest, offshore tax havens, shifting intellectual property such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks to overseas subsidiaries, are not being addressed.

The trickle-down idea has not increased purchasing power for the middle class for 40 years. The divide between the top 10 percent and the bottom 90 percent keeps increasing. The trickle down did not have much trickle. Instead, the middle class’ share of the economic pie is constantly shrinking.

When politicians act in the dead of night with the speed of light, ask yourself why they took all those days off during the legislative session. Remember, late-night amendments usually benefit special interests.

November rambling #2: Narco-a-Lago

What’s killing America’s new mothers?

American hyper-capitalism breeds the lonely, alienated men who become mass killers and Samantha Bee on why “abused women are the canary in the coal mine for mass shootings”

Before Sutherland Springs, the Pulse nightclub and San Bernardino. Before Mother Emanuel church, Sandy Hook, and Aurora. Before Gabby Giffords and Fort Hood, there was Binghamton

A Statistical Companion to “The Vietnam War”

Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit

Walking While Black

Can my child be friends with white people?

“We’re not über-ICE” – Albany, NY mayor Kathy Sheehan, interviewed by Tucker Carlson, discussing Albany’s status as sanctuary city (11/16/2017)

I Forgot My PIN: An Epic Tale of Losing $30,000 in Bitcoin

Apparently, the new Firefox download, Quantum, is a pain. One user wrote: “I had the extensions I needed, the page design I was comfortable with, and working more efficiently and effortlessly than ever. This makeover is terrible.” Also, Finding and fixing a Disqus problem

Economic Development: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

In which John Green is stunned by Kiwi kindness

A five-minute animation about the Dunning-Kruger Effect

10 “Spiritual” Things People Do That Are Total BS

Short film: The journey from underdog to basketball star

Traditional Radio Faces a Grim Future

Sitcoms could be better

Now I Know: Pizza It Forward and When the Government Outlawed Love

The Akond of Swat – Edward Lear

Not me: Eighth-grade teacher Roger Green was heading to the press box back in March to announce the varsity baseball game, but he began to feel achy.

THE KAKISTOCRACY

We are reaching Hrench Revolution levels of inequality and injustice

Why billionaires destroy jobs

The Final Victory of JR Ewing

Narco-a-Lago: Making Millions from Panama Development Used to Launder Drug Money

Every scandal plaguing him

“The fish rots from the head”: a historian on unique corruption

Trophies from elephant hunts in Zimbabwe WERE banned in the US

He may be related to 16th-century serial killer ‘Werewolf of Bedburg’

Johnstown Never Believed He Would Help. They Still Love Him Anyway

Tweeting Condolences About The Wrong Mass Shooting

John Oliver Delivers Scathing Review Of Year One

Plus, an oldie (October 2016), but goodie: The growing list of women who have stepped forward to accuse Trump of touching them inappropriately

MUSIC

On the Beautiful Blue Danube

Disney medley – Voctave

-ly – Tom Lehrer (Electric Company)

Coverville 1193: Cover Stories for Blue Oyster Cult, Petula Clark and Miley Cyrus (!)

K-Chuck Radio: The Monster Soulful Groove

Stringman – Neil Young

#ROCKHALL2018:THE CARS INTERVIEW

November 1971: the record producers

Long before reading Never A Dull Moment: 1971, the Year Rock Exploded by David Hepworth, I knew the role of the producer of popular music was changing during the late 1960s. Famously, “George Martin left EMI’s studios in Abbey Road to start his own studios… in order to command” a more lucrative salary.

Before being the collaborator, Martin had been the “company man,” trying to get the artist to record the type of music the label had sold most recently. At his insistence, the Beatles reluctantly recorded “How Do You Do It,” but it was shelved in favor of Lennon-McCartney music. (The song shows up on The Beatles Anthology 1.)

When record labels were not involved in the creation of albums, sometimes this allowed for great creativity. But it could also lead to expensive experimentation, such as on Pink Floyd’s Meddle, when the musicians often couldn’t hear each other, “capturing the sounds made by household items.”

Brooklyn-born Richard Perry produced albums for people as varied as Tiny Tim, Harry Nilsson and Barbra Streisand. “He knew you had to capture the performance before the artist thought it was perfect, at which point it was actually stale. (See Hank Green’s vlog post, The Secret to my Productivity; it’s related.)

Ken Scott went from tea boy to engineer with the Beatles, Jeff Beck, Pink Floyd and Elton John, among others. While His session with David Bowie was very quick, with the vocals usually done on the first take, and no drugs or alcohol required by the artist.

“The producer that the bands asked for by name in 1971 was Glyn Johns.” He nearly passed on one group, who thought they were rockers, but when he heard their harmonies, he produced the first two albums by the Eagles.

Although Johns is listed only as ‘associate producer,’ he was the one we have to thank for what may be the best albums of 1971.” He honed downed Pete Townsend’s Lifehouse project, was eager to figure out what would work – a Lowery organ fed through a synthesizer – and created the distinctive sound of Baba O’Riley, the opening cut of Who’s Next.

Listen to the full album:

Meddle – Pink Floyd

Nilsson Schmilsson – Harry Nilsson (Japanese import)

Hunky Dory – David Bowie

Who’s Next – The Who

Sonny and Gertie: what might have been

My mother’s remaining cousin on her mother’s side, Fran, always refers to my mother as Gertie. Mom was named after HER mother, which I find endlessly fascinating.

Mom didn’t become Trudy until some point after marrying my father, Les. She pretty much hated Gertie, though long-time relatives were forgiven when they slipped into the old nickname.

Well, that guy with my mother in this undated photo, though clearly from the 1940s, isn’t Les. His name is Sonny. I don’t know a thing about him, including what his last name is. I don’t even know if Sonny is his given name or HIS nickname.

There were, in the day, a lot of nicknames for boys who formally bore their father’s names. Rather than being a diminutive of the name – Richard and Richie or William and Billy – they were sometimes dubbed Chip (as in a “chip off the old block“) or Bud (the next generation) or the initial of the father followed by J – Arthur Jr would be AJ.

Sonny, though, I always thought of as a generic nickname for any lad: “Hey, sonny, could I buy a newspaper from you?” But there are some Sonnys out there.

Gertie’s boyfriend Sonny, my mom told her kids many more times than once, would have been our father if Les Green weren’t so darn charming. This usually happened when she was irritated with our father, though she never said this in his presence.

This statement, even then, I thought was a really odd construction. If we had been Sonny’s kids, we wouldn’t have been…us. We’d have different DNA. We’d look different and sound different, and if we had been raised by Sonny, think differently.

I guess the fact that Les Green was “never a bore” is to the benefit of my sisters and me. No offense to you, Sonny, though. You look like a decent guy, even with that peculiar name.

Oh, today would have been my mom’s 90th birthday. Happy birthday, Gertie Trudy.

E-cigarettes: a solution to smoking?

Because smoking still kills hundreds of thousands of people a year, back in July 2017, the Food and Drug Administration was considering a new rule that would require tobacco companies to lower nicotine levels in cigarettes.

Essentially the plan is to get people to quit by trying to make cigarettes less addictive. Tobacco stocks tumbled over the news. “But the FDA says the change will help the market innovate, and push people to turn to alternatives like e-cigarettes.”

There is evidence in England that as the popularity of e-cigarettes rises, more smokers are able to quit.

In the US, though, prelimary research shows that the fall in sales of traditional cigarettes, which had been dropping for decades, “slowed in 2015, while sales of e-cigarettes — which also pose health hazards — are skyrocketing.”

The National Institutes of Health notes: “E-cigarettes are popular among teens and are now the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States. Their easy availability, alluring advertisements, various e-liquid flavors, and the belief that they’re safer than cigarettes have helped make them appealing to this age group. Further, a study of high school students found that one in four teens reported using e-cigarettes for dripping, a practice in which people produce and inhale vapors by placing e-liquid drops directly onto heated atomizer coils…

“In addition to the unknown health effects, early evidence suggests that e-cigarette use may serve as an introductory product for preteens and teens who then go on to use other tobacco products, including cigarettes… A study showed that students who had used e-cigarettes by the time they started 9th grade were more likely than others to start smoking cigarettes and other smokable tobacco products within the next year. However, more research is needed…”

E-cigarettes can also be dangerous to very small children who may access the product.

The e-cigarette craze may not be the panacea some had hoped for. For the Great American Smokeout, smokers might consider resources suggested by the American Cancer Society.