Posts

Librarian as Bartender

At Wiscon this year I attended a panel about librarians. There’s no surprise there. The connection between avid readers and libraries is natural. As the discussion began people shared some common comparisons or metaphors for libraries and one of them has stuck in my head: the librarian as bartender. Other comparisons were made, to gatekeepers, filters, and guides, but this one interests me. I think the comparison was apt. Librarians are a bit like providers of drugs to the addicted.

Autocratic Personality and Other Odds

Reading about conservatism and personality is like watching a slow motion car crash. You wish it could be stopped or would just end, but instead it goes on endlessly. More evidence of this appears in a recent series of essays by Sara Robinson at Orcinus, Dave Neiwert’s blog hangout. Neiwert has been a longtime observer of far right wing political groups and an astute commenter on rightwing eliminationist rhetoric. Robinson’s series is a summary of the psychology of authoritarianism in part 1, some personal stories about people who escaped authoritarian cultures in part 2, and suggestions for reaching out to authoritarians to ‘bring them over the wall’ in part 3.

Sometimes It's Better to Laugh

Random fact generators are great. Via Chrononautic log I found this Bruce Schneier fact generator. A few refreshes produced these favorites: There is an otherwise featureless big black computer in Ft. Meade that has a single dial with three settings: Off, Standby, and Schneier. There is no Information Theory. Just data that Bruce Schneier allows to be quantified and transmitted on a channel. Bruce Schneier got a perfect score on his comp-sci degree.

Anchors for the Learning Community

One of the topics that has been at the top of my mind over the last few months of summer has been learning communities. Universities, colleges, and schools play a very important part in education, but they shouldn’t be the only game in town. So I ask myself, what would a true learning community look like? Here are some existing institutions that have inspired me and might be useful as seeds for supporting learning communities.

A Pocketful of -archies

A confluence of recent readings have reintroduced me to some -archies I was familiar with and introduced some that were new to me. I’ll begin with holarchy, a term that I’ve recently encountered in [Integral Psychology]() by Ken Wilber. Wikipedia says the term originated with Arthur Koestler. I’ve read parts of his Act of Creation but don’t remember encountering the idea it that work. Wilber deploys the term to describe the way complex systems nest inside of each other.

The Evolution of Groups

To the small number of people who might be reading this. I apologize for my loss of control on Thursday. Sometimes there’s just too much stupidity to avoid, despite however much I try. I think abandoning television helps a lot. If I’d been watching Fox or CNN instead of listening to the radio two days ago I would’ve blown a gasket. So I return to some more questions I have about group formation and dynamics.

On the Unimaginable

I made a mistake tonight. I turned on the radio to listen to the news about the foiled terrorist attack discovered in the United Kingdom. Over and over again the news anchors, the commentators, and even the police used the word ‘unimaginable’ to describe the plot. The root of all this hyperventilating seems to have come from this quote: Paul Stephenson, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said: “We are confident that we have disrupted a plan by terrorists to cause untold death and destruction and commit mass murder.

The Density of the Other

I was sitting this afternoon in the coffee shop at Borders. There were about a dozen other people sitting in the shop with me, some of them talking on cell phones, reading, or just drinking coffee and talking to each other. I was reading Integral Psychology by Ken Wilber. Wilber is an interesting read. His basic method and goal is to integrate the perennial philosophies of the pre-modern world with the psychological advances of the modern world.

Existential Threats and Silly Ideas about Genre SF

Charlie Stross gets things going with a post about the dissipated habits of current science fiction. Chad Orzel says not so fast, you foreigner science fiction hasn’t dissipated it’s just been outflanked by wacky internet fads. John Scalzi pipes up with a comment about how American just don’t care what other people think of our politics and John M. Ford tells it like it is - selective futurism. I think something has happened to science fiction and fantasy in the last two decades.

Reflecting

Among the many writing projects that I’ve considered pursuing was a series of essays based on gerunds, in English these are nouns formed by adding -ing to the end of verbs. Some examples are falling, reflecting, refracting, wishing, pondering. For example, the essay on falling might have made connections between falling in love, the idea of losing control, the power of gravity, etc. This post isn’t that essay, instead it’s about reflecting, the gerund du jour.