Monday, April 26, 2010

The One About Immigration

From my other blog

A few weeks ago, a man came into the library where I work and asked a simple question; he said, “how does someone become a citizen?” I wish I could have answered the way someone would have answered my Canadian ancestors, and said, “Simply cross the line and prosper well—welcome to the land of dreams and prosperity!” That America closed its border a long  time ago.

The person who wanted to become a citizen was illegal—a common story in California. She had been in the country with her husband (also here illegally) for over ten years, and had children who had been born in this country; her youngest son barely spoke a word of Spanish, and is as American as they come.  So what is the answer to her question? It’s easy—pack up and move back to her country (Mexico), because you cannot become a citizen of the United States if you are here illegally. Her youngest son would be able to sponsor her in about six years also.

Why am I writing this? If you hadn’t heard by now, Arizona’s governor has passed new legislation to make anyone in Arizona who is in the states illegally, a criminal—which means prison time, a fine, and a one way ticket back to Mexico. It also means my wife, a born and raised United States citizen, can be questioned on suspicion of being in the United States illegally because she looks Mexican—most states call that racial profiling of the worst kind, but Arizona believes that questioning American citizens is not only socially responsible, but their right.

So back to the family above—if they lived in Arizona, they would be charged as criminals, fined, and returned to Mexico. And their ten year old, who is American and barely speaks Spanish? 

Why are they doing this?  Because they are criminals! Because they broke the law and now they must pay! Because they are wasting American tax dollars!  And because they are a bunch of arrogant, racist, white dicks who don’t want dirty Mexicans contaminating their land.

Here’s one fact people don’t talk about. It is a documented fact that immigrants actually do not hurt the economics of America—in many respects they help it. America loves taxing, so don’t think for a second that just because you are here illegally you don’t pay taxes—the federal government has absolutely no problem collecting money from these so-called criminals. You want to know how badly immigrants hurt the economics of this country? Read this article.

The fact is if you are a wealthy Mexican, you’ll have no problem getting into this country; if you are a smart Mexican and the country can benefit from your brain, you’ll have no problem getting into this country. The problem is those two types of Mexicans are not the ones who make good Americans. The ones who make good Americans are the one who come here with the dreams of a better life—who want nothing more to contribute to the diversity that makes this country so great—the ones who will be happy with living as middle-class citizens. And those are exactly the ones who don’t stand a chance of ever getting her the legal way.

Does it make you a criminal to want a better life for your children? Arizona thinks it does. And if you think it does then why don’t you get yourself out too? It’s easy to forget that Americans forcefully planted themselves on this soil, and continued to illegally revolt against the English government to steal this country away from the king (who had stole it from the Indians). But I guess you have some justifiable excuse for why that was okay. The fact is people shouldn’t be here illegally—in ideal world the government would grow a pair and figure out how to make it possible for our neighbors South of us to immigrate to this country—and how to make it possible to grant citizenship to the ones who are already here.

What does this have to do with Christianity? Arizona citizens are largely in favor of this bill, and there’s bound to be just a few Christians in that state. If any of you are reading this post, then consider what your state is doing. These people aren’t criminals! You don’t need a green card to be American—you just need a dream of something greater. Don’t fear them—embrace them! If you want to protest the fact that they are here illegally, then give them a chance to become legal. Consider the fact that they are here illegally because they don’t have any other options—they are not stealing from your state! They are contributing to it. Are there people who cheat the system? Of course! But there’s American’s who cheat the system too. There are always going to be cheaters, but deporting them won’t stop that.

Social responsibility isn’t a naughty word; it’s a Christian word—it means as Christians we are supposed to care for everyone—American or non. It means if there’s someone who wants to come to this country and dream, then we should help them build—not put up barriers to stop them.

I’ve heard a lot of Christians get upset because we don’t want prayer in schools or the Ten Commandments in courthouse. I get upset when I see Christians turning their back on people who want nothing more than freedom.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Journey Through Literary American: A Review

Who would have Steinbeck been without Salinas? Faulkner without Oxford? Hawthorne without Salem? Langston Hughes without Harlem? Many things shape a writer, but the one so often cited is that city or town that rose around them.

Most writers ultimately will move away from the city of their birth, and yet so often is it the one thing that they come back to as they write.

A few weeks ago, I was given a copy of the coffee table book “A Journey Through Literary America” by Thomas R. Hummel (photos by Tamra L. Dempsey), and I couldn’t wait to read it. More often than not, I am more fascinated by the lives of writers then the works they write—there’s something about seeing what influenced a writers writing that I find inspiring.

The book, which features 26  different American writers (I’ll list them below if you are interested), shows modern pictures of the town and talks about what it was like when the author was living, and what it is like today.

If you are a literary history buff, it’s a worthy companion to your bookshelf.
Featured in the Book: Washington Irving, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Robert Frost, Willa Cather, Wallace Stegner, John Steinbeck, Robinson Jeffers, William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Rita Dove, Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor, John Updike, Philip Roth, Raymond Carver, E. Annie Proulx, and Richard Ford.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Death Day Mark Twain

100 years ago yesterday (sorry, I'm late), the late great, Mark Twain, died. He was 74 and very sad--read his biography and you will know why. In honor of his, below is an faux interview with Twain, which is also posted on; originally it was written for the Wittenburg Door, but it was ultimately rejected after much debate for reason I quite can't remember--it had something to do with some members of the editorial board not believing it was relevant to today. Enjoy...

Douglas:           You’ve certainly kept quiet for quite sometime. For you, I’m sure that’s not an easy thing to do. Some people have even gone as far as saying you’re dead. What do you say to those reports?

Twain:              The reports of my death has been greatly exaggerated

Douglas:           What have you been up to these days?

Twain:              I gave up writing after the death of my mentor, Samuel Clemens. Not only was he my mentor he was my muse. I’ve done a lot of reflecting since then.

Douglas:           Clemens certainly faced a lot of tragedy in his life. Much has been said recently of the darker years after the death of his wife. Did he give you any insight as to how he coped?
Twain:              Clemens was a deeply private man even to those close, though, I must add, not as private as myself, but he did tell me once that, ‘Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child’s loss of a doll and a king’s loss of a crown are events of the same size.

On his deathbed, Clemens wrote, Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all—the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.’ That letter is the closest even I myself got to him.

Douglas:           And do you think he made it up to heaven?

Twain:              If he did it wasn’t by his own doing. Heaven or hell, he will think it is hell, because in the good place you progress, progress—study, study, all the time—and if this isn’t hell for Clemens, I don’t know what is.

Douglas:           Where would you prefer?

Twain:              Heaven for climate, hell for society.

Douglas:           Do you think man is as evil as you often wrote?

Twain:              I believe any man who pursues good will only be left lonesome.

Douglas:           Then there is no point in having morals?

Twain:              Morals are a good thing that man should never be without. This is why it is better to have bad morals than none at all.

Douglas:           How does man live with only bad morals?

Twain:              He’s done a pretty good job so far. No people in the world ever did achieve their freedom by goody-goody talk and moral suasion: it is a immutable law that all revolutions that want to succeed, must begin in blood, whatever may answer afterward. If history teaches, it teaches that.

Douglas:           Do you think law can put order in lives?

Twain:              (sarcastically) We have an insanity plea that would have saved Cain.

Douglas:           So there’s no hope?

Twain:              Such is the human race. Often it does seem such a pity to me that Noah didn’t miss the boat.

Douglas:           But he did make the boat.

Twain:              Which is proof that early civilization could not have been in America, as many of my Mormon friends believe.

Douglas:           How’s that?

Twain:              Because an American inspector would have come along and examined the Ark, and he would have made all sorts of objections to codes it neglected. In the end the inspector would not have permitted it to sail.

Douglas:           Ministers are always quoting some half-witted thing you have to say about religion. Here’s your chance to explain to the world what you really believe. What do you think about religion?

Twain:              I think if you know a man’s nationality you can come within a split hair of guessing the complexion of his religion.

Douglas:           Well you’re an American. More specifically you’re known as an American from the South. Would that mean you’re a Baptist?

Twain:              (laughing) Baptist?! Those people have the reasoning faculty, but no one uses it in religious matters.

Douglas:           No on the Baptist, then?

Twain:              A definite no. Although I noticed an interesting thing while attending service at a Baptist church—few sinners are saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.

Douglas:           Interesting. Would you consider yourself a Christian?

Twain:              No.

Douglas:           You’re being difficult.

Twain:              Forgive me.
Douglas:           Do you believe there is a God or for that matter a god?

Twain:              Let’s just say God and I have strained relations.

Douglas:           Now we’re getting somewhere! You admit God exists?

Twain:              The being that to me is the real God is the One who created this majestic universe and rules it. He is the only originator, the only originator of thoughts; thoughts suggested from within, not from without…He is the only creator. He is the perfect artisan, the perfect artist.

Douglas:           What reason do you give for this?

Twain:              We don’t need reason, where we feel, we just feel.

Douglas:           Do you think a man who does good works for others will get into heaven because of what he did and not what he believes?

Twain:              No. I believe Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, we would stay out and our dog would go in.

Douglas:           You have received a lot harassment from people for your believes in the past. Would you do anything differently if you lived your life over?

Twain:              No. I learned in my older years that a man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.

Douglas:           When did you know there was problem with how you believe and how the church believes?

Twain:              I don’t remember exactly when, but it’s like many things—you know whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. So I suppose I just paused at some point in my life and reflected.

Douglas:           Do you recall what it was that you discovered when you reflected?

Twain:              Mainly I discovered that man is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight.


Douglas:           Did you dabble in other faiths?

Twain:              I was in India and considered Hinduism. I discovered, however, that while it was a good and gentle religion, it is also inconvenient.

Douglas:           Were there ever people in your life, who made you consider that you were wrong?


Twain:              Whenever I meet an honest man, I wonder. Honesty is the best of all the lost arts. When a merely honest man appears he is a comet—his fame is eternal—he needs no genius and no talent—mere honesty—Luther and Christ were each examples of this.

Douglas:           Then you talked to the dishonest Christian standing beside the honest man and realized you were right all along?

Twain:              Exactly. Human beings, it seems to me, are poor invention. If they are the noblest works of God where is the ignoblest?

Douglas:           Good question!

Twain:              I remember one man—a Christian man I should add, who had caused thousands of people to lose vast amounts of money—told me, ‘Before I die I intend to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I want to climb to the top of Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud.’ I told him, ‘I have a better idea. Why don’t you stay right at home in America and keep them?’

Douglas:           Speaking of hypocrisy, you’re mouth has gotten you into a lot of trouble in the past.

Twain:              Well, I believe we should swear while we may—in heaven it will not be allowed.

Douglas:           Care to share a favorite swear word of yours?

Twain:              Quadrilateral, astronomical, incandescent son-of-a-bitch.

Douglas:           During your peak as a writer a lot of intellects were subscribing to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Did you ever consider this as a possible theory?

Twain:              I always believed that theory should have been vacated for a newer truer one. The theory should not be based on the Ascent of Man from the Lower Animals—it should be based on the Descent of Man from the Higher Animal. I believe that our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey.

Douglas:           Does it surprise you that people, even today, try to have Huck Finn banned in schools and libraries?

Twain:              Not at all, and I’m happy that the efforts are still made. I wrote that book exclusively for adults, and it always distresses me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean, sweet breath again this side of the grave.

Douglas:           Did the Bible make sense to you that young?

Twain:              There were parts that didn’t make sense—still don’t. But it ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.

Douglas:           Do you think the Bible is true?

Twain:              It is full of interesting things. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousands lies.

Douglas:           What do you think about Christ?

Twain:              From what I understand he wasn’t a tidy fellow—kept his hair long, didn’t dress nice, and hung out with a pretty reckless crowd.

Douglas:           Is that a bad thing?

Twain:              I suppose in many respects he had the same untidy nature of myself. And I think it’s okay to be careless in your dress, as long as you keep a tidy soul.

Douglas:           Aside from his dress, what do you think about Christ?

Twain:              I think if Christ were here now, there is one thing he would not be—a Christian.

Douglas:           I suppose then, my next question has already been answered, but for the sake of further conversation, what do you think about Christianity?

Twain:              I think the church is always trying to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little by way of example.

Douglas:           So with a little reformation would Christianity be okay?

Twain:              I don’t believe it would be any better—no. I think when we reform in one direction, we go overboard in another.

Douglas:           Is there anything good that comes out religion?

Twain:              Well these so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive…but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetics in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve.

Douglas:           There’s been a lot of fuse lately over separation of church and state. Do you have any views on that?

Twain:              I find it mighty curious that God was left out of the Constitution but was furnished a front seat on the coins of the country. In God We Trust. I don’t believe it would sound any better if it were true.


Douglas:           How can this change? How can this country care again about the inscription on the coin?

Twain:              Bring back the missionaries from abroad, and have them come home and convert these Christians!

Douglas:           Forgive me for stealing the title from one of your books, but what was life on the Mississippi like when you were young?

Twain:              We were good Presbyterian boys when the weather was doubtful. When it was fair we did wander a little from the fold.

Douglas:           I imagine the circumstance were hard, growing up without a father for much of your life?

Twain:              Quite contrary. It is circumstances that make man, not man circumstances.

Douglas:           Do you have any advice to leave us with?

Twain:              There are three things which I consider excellent advice. First, don’t smoke—to excess. Second, don’t drink—to excess. Third, don’t marry—to excess.

Douglas:           Wise words, from a wise man.

Twain:              Thank you. I can live for two months on a good compliment. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Virtually Yours: Online Tools Your Library Needs Now & Why

Nearly eight years ago this month, I submitted my graduate term paper on virtual reference. The paper concluded that every major library needed to have a new branch: The Digital Branch. While a few libraries have implemented what could be considered a digital branch, the majority have not.

Below are five very basic online reference tools that every major library should have now--they're cheap, popular, and, with the exception of iPhone Apps, easy to setup. I know there are dozens of other tools out there (tools libraries need), but these are what I considered the easiest to setup and/or most important to patrons.

If your library doesn't have it and you want it, but still don't know how to get it, send me an email.

Text a Librarian

Facts About Text Messages

  • 74% of all cell phone users use the text message feature; 100% of all teens text; 85% of all college students text
  • Last year, over 1 Trillion text messages were sent
  • On average, Americans text twice as much as they call
Libraries with Text a Librarian Services

  • Seattle PL, New York PL, Newark PL, and hundreds of others
How the Library Benefits from Texting

  • Many people now prefer texting for simple questions that don’t need immediate answers (i.e. do you have a book, what time do you close, where can I get tax forms)
  • Texting allows librarians to manage their time more efficiently; patrons are more patient waiting for replies then they would be on the phone.

  • The cheapest solution would be to subscribe to an unlimited “Qwert” plan for $19.99 a month (plus one time setup fee of $9.99). There is no contract, and plan can be cancelled at anytime. Library needs to provide cell phone (preferably one with a QWERTY keypad, which can be bought secondhand for $50 dollars); Qwert works on any phone that takes a SIM card.
  • Most large libraries use a service by Mosio; this service sends a text to software on a computer. Plans start at $65 a month and go to $100.


Facts about Facebook

  • In March 2010, more people visited Facebook then Google—making it the most visited site in the United States
  • Over 400 million people use Facebook
  • On any given day 200 million people login to Facebook
  • 3 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook each month
  • 1.5 million businesses now have Facebook pages.
Libraries on Facebook

  • Kansas City Public Library (1,400 Fans)
  • San Francisco Public Library (3,700 Fans)
  • New York Public Library (14,000 Fans)
  • Los Angeles Public Library (1,400 Fans)
  • Hundreds of others…
How Libraries Benefit from Facebook

  • It puts a friendly face on the library and encourages patrons to stop by and see more
  • It exposes programs regular patrons don’t know about
  • It keeps patrons connected
  • Easy (and free) way to share event photos and videos
  • Let patrons easily share information about upcoming library events with family and friends who might also be interested.
  • Facebook fan pages are visited more often than regular homepages
  • Facebook is easier to build and manage than a regular homepage.
Time Needed to Maintain

  • 1 to 2 hours a week

Facts About YouTube

  • YouTube is the third most visited site on the Internet (behind only Google and Facebook
  • 70% of YouTube users are from the U.S.
  • The average teen spends over 2hours a week on YouTube
Libraries with YouTube channels

  • Toronto PL, New York PL, Flint PL, Kalamazoo PL, Prescott PL, Topeka PL, and dozens of others
How the Library Benefits from YouTube

  • Easy and free way to show storytimes and computer classes, so patrons can see what they are missing out
  • Provide instructional videos on getting email, hunting for jobs, creating a resume, etc.
  • Videos can be watched on a wide array of devices (not just computers)
Time Needed to Maintain

  • 30 minutes to edit each video

What is Podcasting?

  • Podcasting is audio feeds of different topics that users listen to on their MP3 player
How the Library Benefits from Podcating

  • Library can provide informative information that patrons can listen to while they drive or exercise.
  • Public libraries who have successfully implemented podcasting regularly publish book talks, book readings, storytimes, and monthly book news/book recommendation
Time Needed to Maintain

  • 1 hour to record and publish podcast—plus the time to prepare what will be recorded.
iPhone App

What is an
iPhone App?

iPhone apps, are mobile applications that users with an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad can download. The applications are meant to mobilize the Internet and provide them with easy access to their favorite content.

Facts About the
iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad

  • Over 30 million people own an iPhone in the United States
  • Over 25 million people own an iPod Touch
  • iPad completely sold out before its April release
  • 3 Billion apps have been downloaded
  • Most public libraries have not invested in developing apps because they can be costly and time consuming; new developments, however, have almost eliminated time and cost factors from the picture.
Libraries with
iPhone Apps

  • Washington DC Public Library is the Only public library with an iPhone

How the Library
Benefits from Mobile Apps

  • Mobile apps are one of the largest growth sectors
  • It’s an opportunity to do something few libraries have ever did and be cutting edge
  • It is one of the best ways to promote other virtual reference the library will offer
    (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • It literally puts the library at patrons fingertips, and gives them the convenience of
    finding out about the library anywhere they are at.

Time Needed to

  • 15 to 20 hours are need to develop the initial application
  • 1 to 2 hours weekly is needed to keep the page updated
  • 5 hours of additional time invested would be enough to develop the same application on the
    Google Android phone
Other Tools

What It Can Do:
It combines every instant messenger into one (AIM, Yahoo, etc.), and let’s patrons send instant messages to the reference desk.

Why We Need It:
It’s a simple (and free) solution that could be easily implemented to provide basic reference services virtually.

What It Can Do:
A blog with the latest library news, book reviews, and upcoming events can be fed directly to the libraries webpage.

Why We Need It:
Gives a little more to patrons who want substance, and not short wall updates.

What It Can Do:
As the library uploads more and more photos, this is an easy way to manage those photos.

Why We Need It:
Unlike Facebook, Flickr photos can be indexed and searched.

What It Can Do:
Patrons with twitter accounts, can send messages to the libraries Twitter account directly from their cell phones.

Why We Need It:
The website is growing more popular every year (especially with college students).

Friday, April 2, 2010

LibFind: Version 1.1

The latest version of  "LibFind" is now available on the App store. Six new states were added. I'm hoping to roll out another version this month that includes, amongst others, New York.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy April Fools! This Is No Joke!

I've posted a new book on Feedbooks. It's been on Kindle for quite sometime, but it's new to the free category. If you read it, tell me what you think of it.