The Bookless Library

They are, in their very different ways, monuments of American civilization. The first is a building: a grand, beautiful Beaux-Arts structure of marble and stone occupying two blocks’ worth of Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The second is a delicate concoction of metal, plastic, and glass, just four and a half inches long, barely a third of an inch thick, and weighing five ounces. The first is the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the main branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL). The second is an iPhone. Yet despite their obvious differences, for many people today they serve the same purpose: to read books. And in a development that even just thirty years ago would have seemed like the most absurd science fiction, there are now far more books available, far more quickly, on the iPhone than in the New York Public Library.

It has been clear for some time now that this development would pose one of the greatest challenges that modern libraries—from institutions like the NYPL on down—have ever encountered. Put bluntly, one of their core functions now faces the prospect of obsolescence. What role will libraries have when patrons no longer need to go to them to consult or to borrow books?


Less than twenty years ago Nicholson Baker could lament, in an eloquent New Yorker article, the disappearance of physical card catalogues from libraries. (Among other things, he criticized electronic catalogues for their “neolithic screen displays and excruciatingly slow retrieval times,” as if the technology would never improve.) But how many readers are still troubled, in any serious way, by the disappearance of those old catalogues? (Recently the Yale University library unceremoniously junked its old card catalogue drawers, filling a large dumpster with them.)


The Passive Voice Blog

Our school library does not have a card catalogue.


The unemployment rate: 19.9% or 8.3%?

This is a long, math-strewn article I am basing this on and will quote sparingly from it. But statistically it is quite accurate. Basically it analyzes where 9 million US working people went from the Labor Department statistics.



As we will explore herein, a detailed look at the government’s own data base shows that about 9 million people without jobs have been removed from the labor force simply by the government defining them as not being in the labor force anymore.  Indeed – effectively all of the decreases in unemployment rate percentages since 2009 have come not from new jobs, but through reducing the workforce participation rate so that millions of jobless people are removed from the labor force by definition.

In an extraordinarily cynical act, the government is effectively saying that because the job situation has been so bad for many millions of unemployed people in their 40s, 30s, 20s and teens, they can no longer be considered to be potential participants in the work force at all.  Because there is no hope for them – they no longer need to be counted.  And it is this steady statistical cleansing from the workforce of the worst of the economic casualties – of these very real millions of individual tragedies – that is being presented as a rapidly improving jobs picture.

Us geeks have long known that the commonly quoted U-3 employment figures the BLS presents are skewed. This began under the Clinton Administration and Washington so liked it, they have amped it up. Essentially, those who are long-term unemployed are simply declared “unemployable” and not counted. A more accurate measure of un- and under-employment is U-6


But the U-6 chart looks very different.



The gummint is blaming the Boomers even though they really aren’t retiring much right now. It is the young people taking the hit.


There is a lot here to digest but the main point, IMO, is that there are a lot more hungry people out of work than the Gummint wants to admit. And someday there will be a reckoning.

My New Imus Map

I don’t even recall how I heard about this map but I think it was on someone’s blog. It sounded cool so I bought one and I went to the back order list! The response was way more than his [unamed] supplier/publisher expected! Then I got the thing. It is huge: 4′ by 32″ for the actual map.

I suggest opening this image in a new window/tab and enlarging to full size. I made it deliberately large so you can see some detail on it.

Donna and I are still figuring out where to put this; we already have maps (world, US, CO, and NM) on our hall wall but this one takes as much room as all the others together!

Anyway, when I took it out of the envelop, this is what I saw.

The cartographer, David Imus, spent two years and 5000 (or 6000, depending whose telling the story!) hours creating this map. One wag referred to him as OCD which was my own first reaction! As he says,

Americans are notoriously oblivious about geography, says professional cartographer David Imus, and he’s on a mission to change that.

Imus, 53, blames the lack of knowledge partly on mapmakers, who largely manufacture two-dimensional, political maps.

And he is big on historical and other sites; I have never seen the Granada Internment Camp marked on a map before (eastern Colorado). Nor have I noticed the Northern Divide on a map; this is the place mostly along the US-Canadian border where rivers run north or south.

He even created his own color and other schemes to make it more readable and less cluttered.

This is Colorado and I found one error and one peculiarity. The error is where he put the name “Royal Gorge”; he doesn’t use arrows to indicate where the location is so this has “Big Horn Sheep Canyon” labeled as the Gorge. The Gorge is east (down river) of the location on his map.

But I am nitpicking. One interesting thing was the town name of Buena Vista just below the second “o” in Colorado. He could not bring himself to overlay the town name with the state name!

One thing I had to look up was “Great Sand Dunes NP & P”; when they created the National Park for the dunes, it was two things: the NP and the Preserve. The mountains east of the dunes is the preserve.

Oh, yeah, CDT stands for Continental Divide Trail. I had to look that one up, too!

This is an amazing map and well worth the money. They are caught up orders so get yours today at Imus’ website.