The Conceptual Librarian

December 9, 2009

Google Wave fun

Filed under: Uncategorized — conceptlib @ 2:11 pm

One day I’ll sort out how to get a wave in here.

October 1, 2009

Sport on TV. It’s user pays no matter what.

Filed under: Uncategorized — conceptlib @ 10:08 am
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Free TV Australia, an industry body representing free-to-air television licencees, has set up a website – Keep Sport Free –  to gain support for their bid to retain a kind of monopoly on the broadcasting of certain sporting events. As background to the debate you should check out the material on this Government site:
Anti-siphoning rules for pay TV and sport.

If keeping sport free meant keeping it free of ads then they’d have something.

The anti-siphoning list currently includes rugby, netball, golf and a lot of other things which could just as well be on pay TV so I don’t have to stumble across them when channel surfing – trying to escape reality (read fake emotion games) shows and forensic or medical dramas. The popular items like AFL won’t fully migrate to pay TV because the sports themselves won’t want to lose their audiences.

I myself don’t have pay TV and even though I may have watched some of the sports if they had remained on free-to-air I’m not phased that I’ve opted to read a book instead. And thank goodness for DVDs. I can watch that fabulous Grand Final ad free and free from the crisis of faith that Geelong could possibly lose the encounter.

Ads on TV increase the cost of the products advertised so that the expenditure on ads is recovered. Don’t think that free-to-air channels don’t come with a price. I won’t go into their psychological imperative to alter your perception of the world so as to make you a more confident consumer.

TV has turned sport into money and in this disconnected postmodern world, money will decide where sports shall be seen. And I’m sure we’ll get to see what we want to see one way or another.

August 21, 2009

“Could I have some déjà vu with that?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — conceptlib @ 9:27 am
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Have a read of The Herald editorial from 11th June 1974:

Festival bows to gangster tactics

The Melbourne Film Festival has been outspoken in the past on its right to show controversial films including those of a political and social character. Now, because of some anonymous phone calls it has backed off from screening “Chung Kuo” the Italian made documentary on life in China.

It is outrageous that anonymous threats should prevent this film being shown at the festival. That the organizers were so quick to succumb is a deplorable reflection on what the festival is all about.

If the festival organizers and unions feared the threats of bombs and violence were genuine as, no doubt, they have every right to do, then the full power of the Victorian Police Force should have been thrown into the case. Political gangsterism and gagging of the media with threats of bombs cannot be tolerated in this country.

The festival director, Mr Erwin Rado, said there had been considerable pressure from the Chinese Embassy to cancel the film. In that event, the embassy should be told to mind its own business.

Thankfully, the ABC came to the party and screened the film on television a couple of weeks later.

The Festival stood up to the pressure this time around, weathering the intimidation of staff and cyber attacks on the website. Check out this link to see what happened:  China’s new film threat.

If you go back to June 1974 it was a rather different world. The French exploded a bomb at Mururoa Atoll and hours  later the Chinese also exploded one – in the atmosphere. “China mobs loose in provinces, say posters.” It was the pre-internet era of posters in Peking telling of mass murders and other horror.

In Melbourne meanwhile, Village Cinemas were showing the following films: Deep Throat, The Sensualist, The Language of Love, Secrets of a Door-to-door Salesman & I am Frigid, Why?

June 3, 2009

You won’t be reading this post in China.

Filed under: Uncategorized — conceptlib @ 1:53 pm
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“Why not?” you ask. Simple. The powers that be don’t want you to:

China blocks websites ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

“Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the blockage of a dozen websites such as Twitter, YouTube, Bing, Flickr, Opera, Live, WordPress and Blogger in China,” the media rights group said in a statement.

“The Chinese government stops at nothing to silence what happened 20 years ago in Tiananmen Square,” it said. “By blocking access to a dozen websites used daily by millions of Chinese citizens, the authorities have opted for censorship at any price rather than accept a debate about this event.”

There is an easy way to make your own protest about this. Simply go to your local library and ask for the following book, then apply what you read.

chinamade

 A year without “Made in China” – by Sara Bongiorni

March 20, 2009

Booze lovers rejoice: your lifestyle remains intact.

Filed under: Uncategorized — conceptlib @ 11:04 am
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Yes – it is now out in the open for all to see: The Conceptual Librarian likes the plonk! This is a recent receipt for a four-pack of Lemon Ruskis with the now outlawed alcopops tax included.

I paid the tax, so why isn’t the Government refunding it to me? Why give it to the folks who have already made their profits? All that the distillers and their middle men did was to collect the tax.

And they plan to give this windfall to their stooge organization DrinkWise to advocate “responsible” drinking. DrinkWise Australia promotes itself as an independent body but its 11 member board contains six representatives from the alcohol industry.

DrinkWise doesn’t need that sort of money. It is already doing a magnificent job in warning people who are trying for a baby or are pregnant not to drink, as well as explaining the law as to who is allowed to drink and how much. Their TV ad is really quite good, but it is designed to promote a dynasty of drinkers who have a fridge stocked full of beer. The message in the ad is:

“Kids form their attitude to alcohol long before they have a drink themselves, from their most important role model: you.”

Check out the ad here.

Those who don’t drink think: yuk, this is horrible, but those who do will be comforted by the message that their children and grandchildren, etc. will grow up like them – pissing on and having fun with their buddies in the backyard.

This sentimentality brings a tear to one’s eye just like Harry Chapin’s song “Cats In The Cradle & The Silver Spoon:”

“And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me,
He’d grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.”

I’m happy with the Greens proposal for Alcopops tax to ‘substitute alcohol sponsorship of sport’.

“We’ve calculated $60 million is spent on sponsorship of sport and we believe the Government should be progressively replacing that sponsorship by much more healthy promotion messages, rather than alcohol-based messages.”

This figure may vastly underestimate the actual sum:

“Sports Sponsorship is worth about $1.25 billion a year nationwide” [Alcohol ads wet whistle of youth sport clubs]

The $300,000,000 would be a good start.

There’s no point in employing an army of pen pushers to trawl through credit card records and other receipts to identify those who actually paid the tax. Unlike the people in the DrinkWise ads, some of us may actually be happy to bankroll projects to encourage less drinking.

Perhaps money could also be syphoned off to libraries to assist in the development of more balanced collections in relation to alcohol so that libraries can be in the vanguard of this strand of political correctness.

The dichotomies of Dewey make sure that the beer brewer and spirit distiller [663.4, 663.5] or the wine lover [641.22] will never serendipitously come across material on alcohol abuse and crime [362.292] or the disastrous health effects of alcoholism [616.86].

With the assistance of government funding we can value add by constructing pathfinders and marketing campaigns which link all elements of the alcohol debate, not just for students, but even for those fun loving characters in the DrinkWise ads.

February 1, 2009

How the Perverts of Wall St. can redeem themselves

Filed under: Uncategorized — conceptlib @ 4:15 pm
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What do you make of this? Whilst the economy burns the CEOs of Wall St. pay themselves $20 billion in bonuses possibly funded by Federal bailout money.

Yep. They rack up trillions in losses yet don’t bat an eyelid when they syphon off vast amounts of tax payers’ money which has been placed into their management to revive the economy. I’m not surprised President Obama is hot under the collar on this issue.

But creepy and greedy as these activities are, there is an opportunity for redemption.

Public libraries around the country – and right around the globe – are crying out for funding as many of their parent bodies put the squeeze on, particularly during this economic downturn. A $20 billion (+ interest) donation from the weazels of Wall St. is exactly the shot in the arm libraries need to re-energize their collections and services.

The CEOs could further distance themselves from their contemptuous actions by participating in public lecture tours steeped in self criticism (old Soviet Union style). Talking points could include:

“I would’ve got away with it under the old guy, but we don’t want to do business that way any more.”

or

“I’m responsible for all you folks losing your jobs and homes. Come live in my luxury hotel-sized mansion.”

The $20 billion I’m talking about is bonus money, paid on top of their already exorbitant salaries. It is money taken out of the weekly paychecks of ordinary workers – those who don’t have the power or shiftiness to move all their money into some sleazy tax haven they share with mobsters and arms dealers.

The challenge is simple. Don’t hide the loot. Put it to good use. Invest it in the future by improving access to information today. Empower our citizens by showering public libraries with your endowments, and as the effects of your actions have been global – donate globally – particularly to the developing world.

This of course is an oversimplification of a complex situation, but those to whom this is aimed will get the gist of the argument and hopefully they’ll act appropriately.

January 20, 2009

Travel Alert for the Land of Perverts

Filed under: Uncategorized — conceptlib @ 5:07 pm
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If you are travelling to Bangkok or Phuket make sure you never write down anything like the following just incase 10 people read it:

From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The Crown Prince had many wives “major and minor “with a coterie of concubines for entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed indiscretion. He subsequently remarried with another woman and fathered another child. It was rumored that if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever.

If you do you’ll end up in the dock in chains and sent to the Bangkok Hilton to be gnawed by cockroaches for the next three years.

Even if you believe that the pen is mightier than the sword, this kind of penalty is way over the top.

Harry Nicolaides shouldn’t be begging the king for clemency, the king should publicly chastise the judicial system for being “assholes” and offer compensation.

If this doesn’t happen immediately, then at the next parliamentary sitting in Australia all parliamentarians should read out the so-called offending paragraph so it appears 226 times in Hansard.

When this doesn’t happen, the online community needs to unite and spread the word that it’s uncool to holiday in a land where you have to mind your p’s and q’s.

December 30, 2008

How to make the world safer for library users

Filed under: Uncategorized — conceptlib @ 1:36 pm
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In a long lost blog I argued that armaments companies should be severely taxed to cover any damage (whether personal or property), that the weapons they manufactured are responsible for.

It seems to me now that this proposal does not go far enough. It is like the Occupational Health and Safety Act in Victoria, which has fines for companies that negligently kill employees, but there are no criminal consequences for company directors who simply cough up the dough, then continue to enjoy their luxury lifestyle.

To obtain justice for the dead, the mutilated and the maimed in far away countries – and to bring home the consequences of their want-for-nothing lifestyles, munitions and armament company directors and shareholders need to be held criminally accountable for the death and destruction their products inflict.

If it is proved in court that an African village was destroyed and all inhabitants killed by machine guns and hand grenades manufactured by Company X, then the directors, management and shareholders should be in the dock for mass murder and if found guilty have their assets seized as proceeds of crime and be sent to jail for life of whatever sanction the local jurisdiction mandates.

If I have a few drinks then run someone over I am culpable even though I had no intention of causing any harm. The arms manufacturers on the other hand, who make products which only have one purpose – to kill – are not held responsible for selling their deadly weapons to those who want to use them for what they were designed to do.

“Guns don’t kill people, people do,” is a correct analysis, but it must be kept in mind that there are plenty of people out there doing the killing and they have very powerful backers – the military industrial complexes of the USA, Russia, China, France, the UK, etc.

The moguls know exactly what their weapons will be used for. Make them criminally liable or better still shut their factories down and the extent of killing around the globe will drop to a trickle.

Library patrons would once again be able venture out of their homes, free from the fear of assassination on their way to borrow a book.

December 5, 2008

Libraries (and the ideas they contain) are timeless

Quite understandably you may feel that the world isn’t going your way, that the imperative for growth is destroying the environment, that opportunists in power are lining their own pockets as well as those of their friends.

How can the evils of the world be remedied? Surely not by savagely eliminating those who are perceived to be the cause. That would just add to the evil.

To deconstruct the world in a manner that would tear apart the erroneous principles dominating economic thinking, one needs to be creative – like Gandhi – and passively resist the whole concept of the modern consumer society.

There’s no point in building up a reservoir of seething resentment, then at the boiling point participate in a mob or terrorist attack to sate your frustrations only to regret these actions at a later date.

Detachment from immediate emotional action or reaction is one of the themes of the graphic novel Watchmen in which one of the characters (Doctor Manhattan) is removed from human affairs by nature of his nonlinear perception of reality.

A librarian is in the same position – impartially acquiring books and information from all points of view to create a “balanced” collection which will be accessed at any point in the present or future by anyone of whatever political persuasion or purpose. [E.g. Karl Marx at the British Museum Library.]

Librarians are the conservators of ideas – no matter how evil or perverse. Unlike many of the bleeding heart prima donnas who prance upon the world stage, we actually do live by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Even in the so-called modern world, decades after the Nazi book burnings, we can find similar cases of intolerance and narrow-mindedness. A prime example is the deliberate destruction of the libraries and archives of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the early 1990s by the Serbs attempting to obliterate the cultural identity of their perceived opponents.

In the 21st century we have the Great Firewall of China. Not as destructive of irreplaceable artifacts, but just as stifling on robust dialog and the free exchange of ideas. Any free trade agreement between China and Australia must include free trade in ideas. This means the dismantling of internet filters in China and the abandonment of proposals to filter politically incorrect sites (i.e. sites which offend the most influential lobby groups) in Australia.

Those who censor and destroy have a poor understanding of humanity and our imperative to explore all paths (without shackles) in our search for a better future.

November 20, 2008

The end is inevitable, but do we really not want to do anything about it?

Filed under: Uncategorized — conceptlib @ 5:46 pm
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As the sun approaches the end of the current stage in its life cycle, it will begin to expand and turn into a red giant. In consequence the world will heat up dramatically, all the surface water will evaporate and eventually every plant and animal will die. In other words, within 500,000,000 years the world will become a dead zone and it appears there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

If this is the case, it is imperative a strategy is devised to improve our prospects. Admittedly global annihilation is still in the distant geological-time future, but any proposed solution will take an incredible amount of time to implement. We simply don’t have the technology at present to save ourselves.

Solutions may involve space flight, but there may be nowhere to fly to. And using current technology, the closest stars with potentially habitable planets are so many light years away it will take generations to reach them.

Humans aren’t particularly at home in outer space. We need a space ship with food, water and oxygen, but we also need shielding from cosmic rays and artificial gravity to stop our bones from turning to jelly.

To save even a small fraction of the earth’s population by evacuation would require an armada of thousands of large space craft.

Civilization is only a few thousand years old. The technological revolution practically started in our lifetime. With millions of years to play with, we should be optimistic about mankind’s prospects for survival.

That is why it is important not to stuff it up now.

You can argue till you’re blue in the face about whether global warming is a consequence of human activity or a natural part of the earth’s life cycle, but if the disruptions are going to be on a grand scale as predicted, we have to try to do something about it.

This goes for all forms of environmental degradation.

It also holds true for man’s inhumanity to man. It’s time to remove the imperative of greed and exploitation from our lives. Decide that we don’t need “more” after all.

Ultimately there is only one real challenge and it will affect us all.

Thankfully there are many countries and private corporations involved in the conquest of space. There still seems to be plenty of resistance to human genetic engineering, stem cell research and cloning, etc. These technologies may be the only ones able to provide a solution to our vulnerability in outer space. Bones that maintain their density in zero gravity, radiation resistant tissue, survival in low oxygen environments, skin that doesn’t explode with a sharp drop in air pressure.

These examples are traditional responses on a purely physical level which look at maintaining the current human form. Who knows what other possibilities will be explored – involving ideas that could stand our understanding of what it is to be human on its head.

We need a world which is conducive to research. We cannot afford a world where critical resources are diverted to fighting environmental catastrophes, wars, terrorism and the unimaginative narrow-mindedness of fundamentalism.

The sun IS coming – if we don’t put our differences aside and face the challenge together – we will all fry.

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