Laying Hands On Your Hard Drive

Have you ever wondered if there were a way to completely restrict what your computer does (I mean besides using anything by Microsoft)? Ever wanted to have some Jesus on your desktop? The Pope in your RAM? Well, now you can have your very own Christian Operating System:

Ubuntu Christian Edition is a free, open source operating system geared towards Christians. It is based on the popular Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu is a complete Linux-based operating system, freely available with both community and professional support.

[…] Ubuntu Christian Edition includes more than 16,000 pieces of software, but the core desktop installation fits on a single CD. Ubuntu Christian Edition covers every standard desktop application from word processing and spreadsheet applications to web server software and programming tools.

Along with the standard Ubuntu applications, Ubuntu Christian Edition includes the best available Christian software. The latest release contains GnomeSword, a top of the line Bible study program for Linux based on the Sword Project. There are several modules installed with GnomeSword including Bibles, Commentaries, and Dictionaries.

But the real question is, does it quote scripture at you when you try to downlaod porn?

Doin’ The Atomic Kabuki Dance

On September 5th, the Greatest Movie Ever comes out on DVD:

The first of the Godzilla movies, and the most somber and serious in tone, Gojiro was originally a 98-minute Japanese horror film, until a U.S. company bought the rights and reissued the film at 79 minutes, replacing sequences involving a Japanese reporter with new inserts of a dour, pipe-smoking Raymond Burr. Both versions appear together for the first time in this release from Sony Wonder.

Return To The Lost City of Atlanta

I’m off to Atlanta for a week on business, followed by a holiday weekend in illinois visiting my brother-in-law and his wife so posting may be light to nonexistent. I should have internet access in the Hotel in Atlanta, so hopefully there’ll be no break in my sporadic and absolutely meaningless chatter here. All bets are off over the holiday, though.

In the meantime, I’ve updated Library Thing with a few more books from Library and there’s always the sidebar.

George Likes to Read

US News:

Bush has entered a book-reading competition with Karl Rove, his political adviser. White House aides say the president has read 60 books so far this year (while the brainy Rove, to Bush’s competitive delight, has racked up only 50).

So, now we’re supposed to believe that George W. Bush reads 60 books in 8 months? I call bullshit (and so does The Carpetbagger):

C’mon. We’re talking about a guy who’s supposed to be folksy and simple. It’s an image the White House has worked hard to cultivate over the years. The president seems to enjoy it — otherwise he wouldn’t openly mock people with PhDs.

The fact that the White House gang is experimenting with a new persona — Bush, the reader — is embarrassing. He’s not supposed to be about book learnin’; he’s about governing by instinct and relying on the advice of educated people who tell him what he wants to hear. Switching gears now is not only literally unbelievable, it’s pointless. The die is already cast.

I deal with books for a living. I have giant stacks of them sitting on my desk, on carts, on shelves all over my office. I am surrounded by books and read quite a few in my spare time, too. Some might call me bookish, but then I’m a librarian and it comes with the territory. And there’s no way I could read 60 books in 8 months. Last year, I was trying to match my friend Jenny. We were each trying to read 50 books in a year. I think she made it, but she was counting books on CD that she “read” in the car to work. I don’t listen to books on CD and was unemployed for five months and I still only got to about 30.

And you’re trying to tell me that an incurious mental featherweight, who openly disdains education and mocks intellectuals who also happens to be the ostensible leader of the free world, conducting a multi front war has the time to read twice as many books in 3/4 the time? No fucking way.

Hat tip to Noz.

Educating Immigrants, Whether Congress Likes It Or Not

The Nation:

The day-to-day challenges librarians face are inherent in the job description: defending access to controversial or banned books, staving off budget cuts, and creating and expanding programs to draw more citizens into one of the few remaining genuinely public commons in American life. While the ethic of secrecy often prevails in the gathering and dissemination of corporate and governmental information, the work of a librarian is imbued with just the opposite. Be it in the capacity of archivist, reference librarian or information technology professional, a common thread is the profession’s dogged commitment to safeguarding books, research and information to make knowledge more widespread, not less.

In the past few years this dedication has become more important than ever. With the federal government ever more intent on spying on its own citizens, and on classifying, concealing and manipulating larger swaths of information and intelligence, librarians and library custodians are on the front lines protecting freedom of inquiry and our right to privacy. And where right-wing groups, both local and national, have campaigned for censorship, librarians have also stepped up to the plate to defend minority points of view in their collections. Anecdotes there are aplenty, too many to document here. The following are but a few profiles of courageous individuals in the field who exemplify the democratic values and the independent spirit of the profession.

[…] With the recent passage by the House of Representatives of HR 4437 (the Sensenbrenner bill), which would make it a felony for a librarian to issue a library card to an undocumented immigrant, Garcia-Febo and members of Reforma around the country swung in to high gear. In Queens, Garcia-Febo directed a public relations campaign using bus and newspaper ads, to assure the local community that the library would keep its doors open to everybody. Garcia-Febo also helped develop a Librarian’s Tool-Kit for responding to anti-immigrant sentiment.

“When I came over from Puerto Rico, I realized how important libraries are to immigrant communities here, for everything from literacy classes, job postings, readings or as a place for kids to do their homework,” Garcia-Febo says. “That is why they need to continue to provide full, equal access, regardless of background or legal status.” [Emphesis added]

The whole article is well worth reading but I wanted to highlight this last part as it connects to a much bigger issue, namely, the racist immigration policy currently making it’s way through Congress. Th highlighted statement above really captures the heart of this idiocy: let’s criminalize the poor and needy, so they’ll stay uneducated. The reason is not to scare them away. No one in Congress is dumb enough to think they can actually close off the boarders. They wouldn’t do that even if they could. But by keeping books and the tools available in libraries out of the hands of the immigrant population, it keeps them in a second class status, willing to work for lower wages and no benefits. And that is what this is really about: demonizing the working immigrants and keeping a vast pool of cheep labor pool open for exploitation. Criminalizing library cards for immigrant sis just one aspect of this. But it’s all towards the same end. Just follow the stench of money and see whose hand is in whose pocket.

405+ Attempts to Remove Books From Library Shelves in 2005

ALA:

“Throughout history, there always have been a few people who don’t want information to be freely available. And this is still true,” said ALA President Leslie Burger. “The reason more books aren’t banned is because community residents – with librarians, teachers and journalists – stand up and speak out for their freedom to read. Banned Books Week reminds us that we must remain vigilant.”

Bookstores and libraries around the country will celebrate the freedom to read with exhibits, readings and special events during Banned Books Week, September 23-30, 2006. First observed in 1982, Banned Books Week reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. City Lit Theater in Chicago and ALA will kick off the week with theatrical readings from recently challenged books September 24. The ALA also will participate in a virtual panel discussion with author Chris Crutcher (“Whale Talk”) and 15 high schools on September 25. Participants will hear about Crutcher’s experiences as a frequently challenged author, learn more about the history of book banning in the United States and examine contemporary issues in intellectual freedom and access to information.

There were 405 known attempts to remove books in 2005. Challenges are defined as formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. About 70 percent of challenges take place in schools and school libraries. According to Judith F. Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported.

“We are as busy as we’ve ever been in fighting censorship attempts in schools and libraries,” Krug said. “Libraries are no longer simply about books – but also about DVDs, videogames and online information.”

Number one on the list of most-often banned books? That hot-bed of radical thought, Judy Bloom’s Forever.

All through September I’ll be featuring reviews and discussions of some of my Favoite banned books.  As always, suggestions are welcome, in comments.

Happy Birthday, Ray

Today is Ray Bradbury’s birthday.

Ray and I go back a long way. Not too long, he is 57 years older than me and we’ve never met, but still. When I read Farenheight 451, I knew I had to become a writer. 20 years later, I’m still working on it. And whenever I get down, I break out my copy of The Martian Chronicles and read a few pages (or chapters) and I get back on the horse. Here’s to another 86 years!

Discussion topic: What stories of his have managed to evoke something in you? Longing? Lust? What?