bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters by Rose George. (Metropolitan, 2008)

Doing research for my historical hygiene pamphlet led me down a wide variety of fascinating byways-- or should I say drains? So when I heard about this modern treatment of the topic, I had to read it.

It's worth it.

George covers the sewers of London, the World Toilet Organization, Biogas systems in China (where human and animal manure is composted together to produce burnable fuel gas for the rural family's home), the Japanese ultra-specialized toilet industry, sanitation efforts in less-developed countries including the problem of societies where "open defecation" prevails as well as "helicopter toilets" (where people eliminate into a plastic bag and throw it somewhere...), the processing of 'biosolids' (sewage sludge) into fertilizer and its benefits and dangers, among other topics.

While I'm lukewarm about her topical organization, I think that George's big strength is her amusing and sharp writing combined with a flair for the personality and the anecdote, which she finds in abundance here. From the founder of the World Toilet organization, through specific biogas-using Chinese ladies, there's an abundance of personalities here. There's also a lot of controversy, which George does not avoid.

What she does do is present both sides of most topics-- talking to the enthusiastic head of a highly scientific, class-A+ biosolids producing facility and on the other hand, a campaigning, anti-sludge activist who has documented hundreds of sludge related illnesses in her community and elsewhere, for instance-- first you find yourself all pro-biosolids and then pulled back into caution. I for one will never walk near what looks like a sewerpipe or a commercially fertilized field with the same insouciance again.

She also discusses the shame and the social constructs of human waste, and how they affect the way societies address the issue. (It's fascinating to learn tidbits such as the report that mothers asked to rate the offensiveness of several unlabelled dirty diapers indentified their own baby's as less disgusting.) This too has a serious side, of course, because that's how the problem of human waste goes unaddressed. Apocalyptic thinkers may ask themselves how long public investment averse communities (like, say, California and New Jersey) can avoid the fate of cholera-ridden Zimbabwe if all goes to heck. Development loving liberals will wonder what we can do to make conditions better, and the green treehuggers will wonder if we can make things better for the environment. Business and politics types may enjoy the profiles of marketing and planning successes and fiascos, though engineers will probably feel there is in no way enough detail.

Definitely worth reading, and not just in the bathroom.

Slate posted excerpts from this book at: http://www.slate.com/id/2201466/entry/2201467/

Rose George has a blog at: http://rosegeorge.com/site/category/blog/

* blink *

Dec. 11th, 2007 12:16 pm
bunnyjadwiga: (Bartleby)
I just found Charles Krauthammer quoteable.
The God of the Founders, the God on the coinage, the God for whom Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving day is the ineffable, ecumenical, nonsectarian Providence of the American civil religion whose relation to this blessed land is without appeal to any particular testament or ritual. Every mention of God in every inaugural address in American history refers to the deity in this kind of all-embracing, universal, nondenominational way. (The one exception: William Henry Harrison. He caught cold delivering that inaugural address. Thirty-one days later, he was dead. Draw your own conclusion.) I suspect that neither Jefferson's Providence nor Washington's Great Author nor Lincoln's Almighty would look kindly on the exploitation of religious differences for political gain. It is un-American.
-- Charles Krauthammer, "Huckabee Plays the Religion Card," Washington Post, Friday, December 7, 2007; Page A39

And the only response I can come with to the Christian Right running for office: "Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a Christian and a Democrat. So was Harry Truman, and Jimmy Carter. You ain't no Roosevelt. You definitely ain't no Carter."
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Toys for Tots, and its promotion by the SCA, gives me the creeps.
This is not in fact a criticism of the program, per se. I don't see anything wrong with it.

I have a problem with it being pushed as pretty much the only community-involvement activity of SCA groups, especially because it is pretty much tied to a) luxuries, and b) direct personal contacts with Marines in the SCA, not that I have anything against Marines as such most of the time. It's a feel-good program, with little personal impact on the community or the people it serves. In terms of the social services available to families living below the poverty line, it has the least impact from what I've seen in my experiences with such families. It seems to me like a throwaway program designed to make people feel good about themselves and be uncontroversial-- no matter what your level of suspicion of poor people, you can't argue with giving an (unrequested) toy (of your choice) to someone's child, even if you are convinced that people who have no money aren't 'deserving'.

But the biggest problem I have with Toys for Tots is its widespread endorsement of and involvement in by local SCA chapters and kingdoms. I think the biggest weakness of the SCA is that in forming its own little community, it's divorced its members from attempts to become part of their local communities of residence. It's tempting to cocoon ourselves in situations where we care deeply about faraway people, and don't know or care about the person who lives 2 doors down our street.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
The day after the Amish School shootings in Nickel Mines, an lj-friend of mine was unfortunate enough to post a link to a piece of religious-right propaganda about school shootings that's been going around for the past couple of years. (I was, to put in bluntly, rabid in denouncing that document.)

The religious right is still using that propaganda, claiming that it is the dissolution of the moral fiber in this country, especially as evidenced by the 'removal' of the Christian God from the schools, that causes these things. In fact, anti-abortion activist, and father of one of the Columbine victims, Brian Rohrbough went on the air at CBS in the wake of the Amish School shootings to advance that theory. I don't find any evidence that he ever apologized to those whose tragedy he had used-- the victims' families or the shooter's family. A flash presentation from American Family Radio still uses it: "We Kicked God out of the Schools" http://www.afr.net/newafr/wekickedgodout.asp .

But while they still talk on the news about Columbine, Virginia Tech, and a multitude of other schools, they don't mention Lancaster County or Nickel Mines. In fact, the Religious Right want people to forget the shootings at Nickel Mines. They don't fit the pattern, you see.

Not only were both victims and shooter Christian and Christian-educated, in a Christian community, but the families of the Amish victims did what Christians are supposed to do. They forgave. They supported and comforted the family of the shooter.

I just wish I could forgive what was done by the conservative media with the situation.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
When a Baptist preacher threatened to mount a protest march against certain topics -- astrology, tarot-card reading, but allegedly also the sessions on yoga and feng shui -- in the Pickens library summer reading program, they canceled the whole program. (The library says they had lots of emails and phone calls complaining about the programs in general, not just the tarot and astrology, and given the nature of how people respond to incitement, I'm not surprised that the complaints got wild.)

"Despite the cancellation, library system Public Services Manager Ann Szypulski said the finale pizza taste-off is still on the calendar.
'We’ll still have the pizza party,' Szypulski said. '(But) we don’t want to be put in the situation of trying to second guess at this point what they would approve and what they wouldn’t approve.'"

Sounds like what Jesus would have done as the librarian:
Matthew 5:40. "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also."
Luke 6:29. "Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either."

Can we buy the Baptists a "What would Dewey Do?" tshirt?
bunnyjadwiga: (DumbBunny)
The Politics of Housework.
Would that this were as dated as it should be.

Gamer Guys and Gals, these are still red-hot-red-button statements, no matter who does the housework in your house:

  • "We have different standards, and why should I have to work to your standards? That's unfair."
    Yes, I too have persecuted a man for not folding towels the 'right' way. I was fourteen. My father never folded another towel again. (Then again, since he also staged a hunger strike in the hospital because they told him he had to make his bed before getting meals.) So I pet and praise people for doing things at all.
    Sure, sit down and work out a compromise solution: the person who would normally do housework probably does have higher standards than the one who doesn't. But if you get caught slacking on those agreed-on standards, don't even think of using this excuse.
  • "I've got nothing against sharing the housework, but you can't make me do it on your schedule."
    When you work out when things need to be done, you'd better listen to the people doing other jobs and make sure your schedule meets with theirs. Saying that the dishes only need doing once a week when the cook needs that space to cook in every day is slacking. Claiming that hot food and planned meals are not a necessity to deal with this problem is being a slacker, unless the other people are of the same opinion.
  • "I hate it more than you. You don't mind it so much." [Now generally transmuted to "The mess bothers you more than me."]
    Bhoys and grrls, if the Board of Health would agree with your roommate about the level of mess you tolerate, clean up your act. Or move in with people who agree about the level of mess. I suggest a flophouse, though where you'd find one outside of Steinbeck anymore I can't say.

The general work of keeping up with things, be it bills, house repairs, screaming children, pet health, or laundry, takes time and energy. Ignoring those things has consequences. Unless you and the people you live with agree that you are all willing to tolerate those consequences, turn off the computer/game console, get off your butt, and get to work. Believe me, the only people who died of housework were doing it wrong.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
On the sliding scale, higher values are more important. Think of it as percentages...

[Poll #734686]
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Everyone in the government, and most of the Republican party, are whining that 'this is not the time for finger-pointing' in terms of New Orleans. I agree; the level of necessary discipline to get these people to do their work is well into the grabbing-by-the-earlobe and emphasizing-lecture-with-smacks-across-the bum level of dealing with cleanup truants. This isn't about politics: it's about basic stupidity, incompetence and unwillingness to deal with problems, admittedly problems my spawned-by-feminism soul imputes to most white males but not exclusive to them by any means.

Last night's public radio cruising blended a lecture on The Well Read Life into the New Orleans news, and there I found the key to one of my biggest peeves.

One of the excuses feckless FEMA, Louisiana, New Orleans and other government yappers have put out is that 'a disaster of this magnitude could never have been expected/imagined/envisioned.'
Clearly, these civil servants aren't up on their reading. Literature and history is full of disasters of this magnitude, or similar ones.
Well read rant )
bunnyjadwiga: (Bunny)
George Needham of the OCLC "It's All Good" blog has written a lovely satire as a result of Michael Gorman's "revenge of the Blog People": http://scanblog.blogspot.com/2005/02/revenge-of-codex-people.html
(Thanks to Roy Tennant for posting on Web4Lib)
bunnyjadwiga: (Bunny)
Ok, as Librarians, we've all had occasions when our deans, directors or what-have-you administrative supervisor says something that makes us want to hide in the basement behind the 020s until everyone forgets.

But Michael Gorman has done it for the whole profession. His "Revenge of the Blog People" editorial in proves that narrowminded, longwinded professionals can get quite poorly-thought-out things through the printed press. Now, the original article that started the debate, "Google and God's Mind," was a little problematic but well within the restraints of scholarly debate about something that is in the news. (As well as pointing out the well-known issues with relying on electronic media, Gorman complained that Google Print would be problematic because it would provide only snippets of information from books, and allow books to be read and used non-sequentially.)

Some net-addicts with blogs reacted negatively to criticism of Google Print. In his place, I would regard this as a good sign that someone outside the library press had read his work. But the hapless and thin-skinned Gorman decided to dump vitriol on those who blogged criticisms of his statements. He did so in an editorial in LJ, using a broad-brush in a way that was thoroughly unprofessional. He appeared to characterize all blog writers as 'unpublishable' and otherwise unintelligent Blog People. Many librarians with blogs took offense, as well they should. *

Were Mr. Gorman merely the Dean of the Libraries at a school in California, his remarks, which he later characterized as 'satire,' would have been an exercise of the right to make a fool of oneself in print or online as many times as one wishes. However, his publication in LJ was really as the president-elect of the American Library Association.

However, I dispute the idea that a librarian in that position has the right to use LJ, or any other library publication for that matter, as a platform for expressing his personal feelings about people who objected to him. The editors of LJ, and Gorman himself, should have been able to clearly see how offended librarians and their patrons would be by his "rant."

Frankly, if Gorman wanted to say something like this-- the best place would be in his personal blog. With a note above it saying, "The opinions below do not represent other librarians or the American Library Association.

* Links to annoyed librarian bloggers who express themselves far better than I:
http://www.libraryplanet.com/2005/02/gorman http://librarianinblack.typepad.com/librarianinblack/2005/02/michael_gorman_.html


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