Peace, quiet and books.

Happy new year. I hope your 1/1/19 was peaceful and not too hungover. Our neighborhood resounded with gunfire, a Detroit tradition that seems to get worse every year. Yesterday was trash day, and the recycling is always the last to be collected, so the bin was still at the curb, looking ugly. I went down to pick it up shortly after we got home, around midnight-oh-five. Alan told me not to, but I did it anyway, because I like to live dangerously. Cover me, babe, I’m going for the recycling bin.

Meanwhile, in Washington:

Trump used the first day of 2019 to insult a retired U.S. commander in Afghanistan as a dumb loudmouth, sing the praises of an ultranationalist former aide and tell America to “ENJOY THE RIDE.”

That’s a teaser from the home page of the Washington Post. I’m afraid to click. So I won’t. OK, so I will. The self-proclaimed world’s greatest negotiator has invited congressional leaders for a briefing on border security, which I’m sure will be followed by this negotiation tweet: GIVE ME WALL.

But we’ll see that soon enough. Let’s talk…libraries, shall we?

I heard a little of “This American Life” on Sunday; the show was about libraries, and the chapter I heard was about a woman whose mother would take the whole family to the library every day for a year when she was little. It wasn’t until years later that she realized they’d been homeless, and the daily library trip was to give the family they were crashing with a break. She talked about the great children’s librarians who accommodated them and read to them and never made them feel anything but welcome.

It set my mind spinning back to when Kate was young, and I was trying to make it work with her in limited child care, which meant I dropped her at the sitter after lunch. The mornings are good for little kids, but the hours can be very long, and you’re always looking for something to fill them. We’d often go to the library, for story time, or just for a change of scenery from the house. The Allen County Public Library is a goddamn miracle, an institution worthy of a community far larger but somehow in this mid-size city (the county, really). The community loved it fiercely, with a few sourpuss exceptions, and for the most part, the library loved it back. There were programs for pretty much everyone, and the children’s room was particularly great.

I remember all the fantastic librarians who made us, and everybody else, feel welcome. The supervisor was a lesbian, Miss Mary (I think), who had a couple kids of her own. One of her deputies, Miss Beth, often ran story time and was hilarious. I was about as lucky as a mother of a young child could be, but when I think back on those years, I know how much I relied on others to help carry the load, and the library was a big part of it. It was one place in Fort Wayne where I felt absolutely welcome.

Here in Detroit, we don’t have a county-wide library system, and each city and suburb does its best. In Huntington Woods, they’ve instituted a drag queen story hour, which honestly sounds hilarious and something I would have enjoyed with a toddler. But as you can imagine? Some people object:

Warriors for Christ — which describes itself on its website as a pre-denominational ministry modeled after “the 1st century church that Jesus founded (which is not the Catholic Church)” — plans to meet at the library at 3 p.m. on Jan. 26 for prayer. This protest coincides with a scheduled Drag Queen Story Time, whose theme is “I Like Me Just the Way I Am!,” according to a Facebook event page.

The ministry has started its own Facebook event page, Rebuke Drag Queen Story, to get people to attend the protest.

Another group, Mass Resistance, has previously said it will be protesting the event.

And Rod Dreher, the conservative writer whose focus has dwindled down to Pedophile Priests and the Trans Menace, is also pitching a snit over it on his blog:

Why not Leather Daddy Story Hour? If you accept Drag Queen Story Hour, why not? What is the limiting principle? I’m not trolling; I’m asking seriously.

I guess the limiting principle would be whether parents are willing to take their children to that story hour. I’d probably have opted out of that one, but drag queens? What’s the harm? Kids see very tall women with too much makeup, playing a role. Big deal. And if they learn that people come in all shapes, sizes and …other differentiating factors, so much the better.

OK, then, a little bloggage:

The NYT podcast, The Daily, spent the holiday interregnum rerunning some of the year’s better pieces. This edition was a particularly good one, a deep look at how POTUS got rich. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything to tell you that the origin story he peddled on the campaign trail — my dad gave me a loan, I paid it back with interest, and spun it into the billions I have today — is, um, a lie.

And this story, about the possibilities of “deepfake” videos, is deeply disturbing. Wait until the Russians start deploying it.

But I don’t want to bum you out as the year begins. Let’s go get it.

Posted at 8:10 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

35 responses to “Peace, quiet and books.”

  1. charlie snouffer said on January 1, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    miss nancy…please come back to fort wayne.we need you to slay that dragon named steve shine………please come back

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    • nancy said on January 2, 2019 at 7:58 am

      Isn’t he aged into irrelevance y now?

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  2. beb said on January 1, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    There an interesting article arguing that libraries should be slow to adopt modern technology since it takes a few years for the tech to mature. By being slow to adopt library won’t waste money on ideas that don’t pan out. Since libraries rarely have much money for investing on new tech this seems like making a good idea out of necessity.

    Since most communities surrounding Detroit take pride in not being Detroit the lack of a county wide library system seems inevitable.

    The best thing about today is that Witmer has been sworn in as governor.

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  3. alex said on January 1, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    I’ll say this for the library. It’s the one safe place where gay kids can go and get real information and find perhaps a kernel of validation to get them through to the age of majority without committing suicide.

    And maybe I’m just jaded, but the idea of drag queen story hour sounds like a blast. It’s hard to find volunteers willing to get into character and costume and entertain children. It’s a resourceful library that makes use of such natural talent.

    Dreher doesn’t really want to know why there isn’t a Leather Daddies story time. He just knows better than to ask why there can’t be a Neo-Nazi story time to balance things out in his zero-sum mind.

    The limiting principle is that you can opt out of drag queen story time if you have a bug up your ass, but you can’t make that decision for everyone else.

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  4. basset said on January 2, 2019 at 5:26 am

    Continuing the Steak Diane thread… didn’t make it yesterday, running late so we just put the venison on the grill with some rub. Still gonna try the Diane soon, report to come.
    Meanwhile, deer season is just about over. Trying to get one more to donate but it’s not looking good.

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  5. David C. said on January 2, 2019 at 6:12 am

    Rmoney dissed the current occupant in the Post. So he’s inherited the “this troubles me but I’ll vote with you 99% of the time” seat from Jeff Flake.

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  6. Suzanne said on January 2, 2019 at 8:14 am

    Exactly my thought, David C. Romney is taking over the pearl clutching role for Flake, tag teaming with Ben Sasse. And I am sure, Mitt is trying to position himself for another run for the high office.

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  7. Connie said on January 2, 2019 at 8:55 am

    My more exurban metro area library was also planning a Drag Queen Story time, so we have been watching the craziness on this subject happening at Huntington Woods. The largest opposition to this appears to be organized by an out of state right wing group. (Plus phone calls from Grand Rapids.) At the very large recent city council meeting there were a couple of hundred local people, all in support.

    Already mentioned books to which I will add my recommendation, Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series, Uprooted was one of my favorites when it came out. Add The Goblin Emperor to the list.

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  8. Heather said on January 2, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Mmm, steak Diane sounds good indeed. I’m going to try to eat mostly rice and beans this month though after so much rich food during the holiday. Yesterday I went to the annual brunch/potluck at the home of some friends who run a restaurant; the table kept magically filling up with delicious food as people stopped by. My pickled shrimp went fast!

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  9. Heather said on January 2, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Mmm, steak Diane sounds good indeed. I’m going to try to eat mostly rice and beans this month though after so much rich food during the holiday. Yesterday I went to the annual brunch/potluck at the home of some friends who run a restaurant; the table kept magically refilling with delicious dishes as people stopped by. My pickled shrimp went fast!

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  10. Bitter Scribe said on January 2, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Why should Rod Dreher not be considered an obnoxious, fucked-up bigot who should be ignored until he finally, blessedly goes on that “Benedict Option” he’s always talking about? I’m not trolling; I’m asking seriously.

    My feeling is that since the internet came along, reference librarians have much less to do. Actually, that’s not just my feeling. When the internet was coming into its own, I was married to a librarian who would contemplate how it would diminish her profession’s role and kind of sigh in resignation.

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  11. Jeff Borden said on January 2, 2019 at 11:38 am

    One of my friends is a the mother of a 5-year-old boy. They’ve been attending Drag Queen Story Hour for a couple of years now. Linus believes the queens are fairy princesses. His favorite is Muffy Fishbasket, who always wears a wildly colored bouffant wig. Feel free to check her out:

    I’d much prefer the company of drag queens to prigs like Rod Dreher or Ross Douthat. Certainly, they’re a lot more fun.

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  12. alex said on January 2, 2019 at 11:47 am

    Muffy Fishbasket! Yay!

    I’m gonna start going to the library to see drag so I don’t have to pay cover.

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  13. Connie said on January 2, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Will let you know when ours is scheduled Alex.

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  14. Deborah said on January 2, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    Drag Queen story hour sounds terrific. I’m certain LB would have lived it as a kid. Her favorite thing as a toddler was to be read to, she would have sat listening for hours and hours if I was willing to do it that long. Story hour at the library every week was a must. There was one time the story reader was dressed as a clown, had a lot of the kids in tears, that was the first time I realized that kids can be terrified of clowns.

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  15. beb said on January 2, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    Speaking of scary clowns, disgraced, alleged comedian Lewis CK is trying to make a comeback. A tape has leaked of some of his new material which sounds like like a tweet from Trump than anything, you know, funny. But what grinds my gears (to borrow a phrase) is that the news sites that are reporting this, as is the way with web sites, pairs the headline with a picture, in this case a photo of a jovial Lewis. I think a man who was blacklisted for vulgar, obscene behavior in from of women only a few months ago shouldn’t head an article about his unrepentant behavior with a publicity headshot. Unless overlaid with the circle and bar “prohibited” sign.

    If Rod Dreher doesn’t understand the political context of a man putting on a dress and putting on bondage gear he probably shouldn’t be writing about anyone’s sexuality.

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  16. linda said on January 2, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Bitter Scribe @10: just retired as a librarian 6 months ago. The internet gave us fewer, but longer questions, since we have access to more resources than the ones in building. Also, we do more work helping people with their devices: learning to use them, getting them to print stuff off their phones, etc.. Also, we can create our own reference collections online. Give a little, take a little.

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  17. Connie said on January 2, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    My daughter was terrified of clowns. Screaming terrified. Clutching her nose terrified. Unconsolable terrified. It was sad but we had to work hard not to laugh at her protecting her nose.

    Heather, rice and beans is very carbohydrate heavy, which could raise your blood sugar. Maybe add a few leafy greens?

    Michigan’s historic library law did not encourage county libraries due to the organization of libraries by school districts. The district library law, not quite 50 yrs ago changed that. Many of Michigan’s county libraries do not include the largest city in the county which has its own library.

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  18. Julie Robinson said on January 2, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    Oh how I love libraries and librarians! My mom was a librarian and only retired at almost 72 because of a quirk in the Illinois pension system. Over the years I’ve taken advantage of just about everything ACPL offers, especially all the kids’ programs. BTW Miss Mary’s partner and now-wife worked at FWN. I think she’s still there.

    Thank you for your service, Linda and Connie. Mom worked reference for many years and during that time also maintained the vertical file, the analog version of the internet.

    Don’t like drag queen story hour? Don’t go. Problem solved.

    Do any of you keep records of the books you read? I never have, but I’m going to this year. It’ll be interesting to see how many it is.

    It’s so damn gray in Fort Wayne.

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  19. Connie said on January 2, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    This library director was going to say about the same thing as Linda. Nor as many quick questions, but questions that are more complicated and require complicated online resources which we purchase. And far more people in person, their device in hand. It started out as an effort to help you download e-books and turned into “book a librarian”. From Overdrive apps (go libby!) to Word questions on your laptop we are doing it all. This year we are also installing some digital media conversion stations, vhs and photos to digital formats,

    Back a ways Julie complained about waiting lists for e-books on Overdrive. My library is part of a large ebook consortium that as a group spends over 200,000 on ebooks. This just past year my library spent 1,000 per month on additional copies to serve the hold lists for eaudio and ebooks, available only to my resident patrons. When our hold rush is done we can release some of these copies into the shared collection. This year we are increasing that to $2,000 a month.

    Overdrive is a bookstore model. You buy one, you loan one. Check if your library has RB digital audio, Hoopla, or Kanopy, each of which allows for simultaneous downloads. They have large collections but may not have the newest stuff that Overdrive has.

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  20. JodiP said on January 2, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Julie, I have used Goodreads for about 6 years. It’s owned by Amazon, so not exactly private. There used to be a function to keep your notes private to yourself, but that went away. A couple times people have made dumb comments on my reviews, such as judging me for not finishing a book, but still having an opinion on it. (See below)

    However, I have found it really useful to help me remember books for better or worse. I’m finding I begin and don’t finish 25-30% of the books I start. My to-read list is long, so I have little incentive to stick with stuff that doesn’t appeal. My long to-read list also means there is always something available I wish to read, so I don’t mind the long waits for anything. I do wish Overdrive would let users put holds on more than 15 books, as some of the waits are quite long.

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  21. Suzanne said on January 2, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    My library has Hoopla. It doesn’t have the most up-to-date items, but I’ve found quite a few older books that aren’t on Overdrive or readily available via our consortium.I reach my Overdrive recommendation limit every month and my wish list is longer than I will ever be able to read. I prefer regular books, but e-books are so handy, especially when travelling!

    Speaking of reading, I ran across this a while back and found it fascinating:

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  22. Deborah said on January 2, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    It was blindingly sunny in Abiquiu today because of the reflection off of all the snow, a nice change from the greyness in Chicago and even London and Paris were grey, grey, grey. The high here was supposed to be 30°, don’t know if it actually made that, low tonight of 11°, but last night was 7° with a win chill of -1°. I’m trying to use the degree symbol every chance I get. I love how easy it is.

    Is there a short cut for making an apostrophe in a word like “don’t”? I feel like there must be an easier way.

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  23. Julie Robinson said on January 2, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Goodreads is probably more than I need although I often read reviews there. I was thinking more of just a list on Keep. Or maybe a nice spreadsheet, I love spreadsheets and hardly ever use them now I’m retired.

    Since I got a library card in Orlando I’ve learned the hold limits are determined by the library. Ours is five and theirs is ten, which helps me considerably on Overdrive. Didn’t mean to be churlish about that, Connie, and I do understand how costly those services are. It’s just that sometimes I will wait two or three months without any of my five coming up. I’ve learned to download from Overdrive to my computer, transfer to another device, then immediately return the book so others don’t have to wait so long. These books don’t self-destruct after three weeks, so I can time-shift them if I’m extra busy, or if three come in over three days, which just happened.

    Hoopla is available at both and Orlando also has RBDigital and Kanopy, where I’ve also found Acorn (British TV, swoon!). Orlando is also a county wide system so they obviously have a bigger tax base and can offer more. They have Mango languages, Lynda video tutorials, Freading, Axis360, and free legal forms too. While we were there we completed simple wills for our kids, Florida specific. I’m on a kick for everyone to get wills after dealing with my sister’s estate.

    I also check out books on CD, rip them to the computer and transfer to my trusty little mp3 player for falling asleep reading. It seems like a lot of books aren’t offered in that format anymore at our library. But again, I shouldn’t complain; there is such a wealth that I always have books waiting to be read.

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  24. Dexter Friend said on January 2, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Did this blog get hacked or corrupted? I click, I get warned “THIS SITE IS NOT SAFE”. ?

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  25. BellaGP said on January 2, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    I heard part of This American Life library episode. Our daughter attends boarding school at Standstead College up the block from the library. Stanstead is a very small village in Quebec’s eastern township. It’s been a wonderful experience for her. She has met all kinds of people and this year her two roommates are from Nigeria and South Africa. Last year she a Chinese roommate briefly (too smelly and the only thing she said to her in English was “my father is very rich” )and a girl from Vietnam. She went to play hockey but has found the academics to be challenging. I think she wishes she would of gone away in grade 8.

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  26. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 2, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    Well of course it’s not safe. Is safe really what any of us want?

    Speaking of which, we now live in the year “Blade Runner” was set in. And I hope you all pass your Voight-Kampff tests.

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  27. beb said on January 2, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    Well, I have been able to convince capchta that I’m a human a few times so I guess I’m not a robot. (Though I do dream of eclectic sheep.)

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  28. alex said on January 3, 2019 at 6:52 am

    I googled my name and discovered that Goodreads shares my reading list with the world. Only it’s not my reading list, it’s my parents’. (My dad and I share the same name.) Good thing my folks have such good taste in books or this could be embarrassing.

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  29. ROGirl said on January 3, 2019 at 8:46 am

    A book I have been recommending is The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. It’s about the experiences of the women of ancient Troy who were captured by the victorious Greeks. My library has hoopla and kanopy, have downloaded some music which I can listen to in my new car I bought the day after Christmas, a Camry.

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  30. Julie Robinson said on January 3, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Then there’s no way I’m going to have a Goodreads account. Not that I’m under any illusions about privacy, but that’s creepy.

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  31. brian stouder said on January 3, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    RO Girl – very cool (on the new ride)

    I’m (apparently) now an “old guy” – as I love-love-love our new(ish) minivan, with stow-and-go seats and satellite radio….and did I mention the seat warmers? (It also has a steering wheel warmer)

    I could take or leave the steering wheel warmer, but I think I shall never again buy a vehicle without bun-warmers!

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  32. Sherri said on January 3, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    If only there were a woman who was likeable!

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  33. susan said on January 3, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    Apparently Maggie Thatcher, Theresa May, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Eva Perón, Liz[ard] Cheney, Marine Le Pen, Sarah Mooselini, Ann Coulter, Phyllis Schlafly, are all A-OK. Hmmmm…

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  34. Deborah said on January 3, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Theresa May isn’t popular in London, at least it looked that way to me a couple of weeks ago. Maybe the right wing loves her here but that’s not the way it seemed over there. Jerry?

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