Forty years in Albany; two score!

Shall the city of Albany accept the offer of Mr. Andrew Carnegie of $150,000 for public library purposes?

Albany.land trustIt had totally slipped my mind that I have lived for forty years in Albany, NY. I moved to an apartment on the corner of Morris and Ontario Streets in August 1979 My intention was to attend graduate school at SUNY Albany in Public Administration.

I spent one year in grad school, pretty much hating it for a variety of reasons. Working at FantaCo, the comic book store, was meant to be a summer job; it turned out to be 8.5 years. After a little over a year at a not-great insurance job, I went back to UAlbany, this time to library school.

I worked for the NY Small Business Development Center for 26.7 years, in five different spaces. This included two in the same building, and one in Corporate (frickin’) Woods, also the general locale of the insurance job.

Since I lived in close to a dozen places in my first two decades here, my friends told me they put my information in their address books in pencil. I resided on both Morris Street in the Pine Hills section, and on Lancaster Street, off of Lark, two different times. The nice two-family house where I lived in the West Hill section of town now has a red X on it.

Before I moved to Albany, I resided in Schenectady, in the same metropolitan area. Though less than 20 miles apart, they’re quite different places. Schenectady has had Democratic mayors and Republican mayors.

1902

Forty years in Albany means that Erastus Corning 2nd, “the longest-serving mayor of a major American city,” was still running the show. The Democrats have been in control for nearly a century, and the Republicans for the previous 30 years before that. I blame the patroons.

In 2007, the city voted to create a much more robust library system. This was in stark contrast to a century earlier. From the Library Journal, volume 27, Nov 1902, under NEW YORK STATE LIBRARY SCHOOL, CALENDAR, 17TH SCHOOL YEAR, 19O2-3, NOTES AND NEWS:

“The students have been interested in watching the Carnegie library campaign, which culminated on election day, Nov. 4. The following question was submitted to the people on a separate ballot: Shall the city of Albany accept the offer of Mr. Andrew Carnegie of $150,000 for public library purposes?

“The offer was rejected by a majority of 5056. There were 7152 votes for and 12,208 votes against the proposition, 23,334 being the total city vote cast for Governor. Only four out of 19 wards gave a majority for the library.”

Albany was one of the relatively few cities in the US that rejected a Carnegie library because they didn’t want the comparatively small cost of maintenance. So Albany has evolved somewhat.

Sometimes, my wife asks where we might move to if ever that was our choice. I dunno. Right now, I’m within three blocks of a pharmacy, a grocery store, a library branch, a police station, a half dozen restaurants, and at least four bus lines. Whatever its flaws – and there are still a few – Albany is still home.

September rambling: end the stigma

Musicians Across Five Continents

post-apocalyptic section
The Most Segregated City

Vlogbrothers: End the stigma

What happened to Jaye McBride could have happened to any of us

WAVE 3 News reporter kissed on live TV; here’s why it’s not cool – Sara Rivest is the daughter of Michael, a guy I know in Albany IRL

The differential privacy video the Census Bureau sponsored from MinutePhysics

Unmarried Partners More Diverse Than 20 Years Ago

Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies at 75

Longtime TV newsman Sander Vanocur dies at 91

Bill Schelly, R.I.P.

Amy Biancolli turns 56

The Surreal End of an American College

What Happens Right Before Your Best Employee Quits

Alan Zweig’s Vinyl documentary – a record collector’s expose

Baking Isn’t Hard When You’ve Got a Library Card

The Guardian: 100 best films movies of the 21st century. 1) I’ve seen 26 of them, at least two of which I disliked; 2) the year 2000 is NOT in the 21st century

Save on Internet Safety guide

Chef Boyardee: The Sine Qua Non of Homemade Pizza

Alex Trebek saying “genre”

Epergne: It’s time this Kitschiest of Obscure Vintage Treasures had a Comeback

The Evolution of a Fractured Coin of the Rebellion

The Modern Jonah

Now I Know: Who is MP and Why Are His Initials on My Checks? and An Aria a Day Keeps the Cougars Away and The Aquarium That Turned a Blind Eye Toward Bullies and The Island That Floated To Safety and Why We Give 21-Gun Salutes

English

The Beauty of Being Bilingual

Merriam-Webster dictionary adds ‘they’ as a nonbinary pronoun – America’s oldest dictionary claps back at grammar snobs as it embraces a more inclusive definition

Public is or Public are: “British English tends to see either a plural or singular verb, pronoun or noun as acceptable, depending on the context in which the collective noun is used. American English, however, is considerably more rigid in sticking with the singular. Though they too may reconsider occasionally, based on context.”

Harry Potter and the Poorly Read Exorcist

Boss Tweet

New Yorker.20191007
He is a threat to virtually everything that the United States should stand for

If This Isn’t Impeachable, Nothing Is and If Democrats put off impeachment until he does something worse, he’ll do something worse and His call to Zelensky was not out of the ordinary – for him and With the Gears of Impeachment Finally Grinding, the Hard Part Begins; also Lindsey Graham’s Impeachment Views in 1999 Vs. 2019

Iran Policy Is a Failure

Health Insurance That Doesn’t Cover the Bills Has Flooded the Market

The Race to Prepare for a Potential U.S. Exit From the World’s Mail System

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Legal Immigration

Travel ban really was a Muslim ban, data suggests

Comedian John Mulaney has the perfect analogy for what’s going on in our country today [explicit language]

MUSIC

What’s My Name – Ringo Starr

Playing for Change: The Weight – Robbie Robertson, Ringo Starr, and Musicians Across Five Continents

Old Town Road -Courtney Hadwin

Overture: L’italiana in Algeri, or The Italian Girl in Algiers by Giacchino Rossini

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – Sleeping At Last

Happy Birthday, Hans Zimmer edition

Coverville 1278: The Leonard Cohen Cover Story V

Love’s Creeping Up on Me – United Image, a 1971 Stax song that sounds more like Motown to me, and is billed as Northern Soul

All Kinds of Kinds – Miranda Lambert

Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris Trio Documentary

The importance of choir: John Rutter (there are about 20 seconds of him in b&w before he actually begins to speak)

Real Arrogance Over False Humility: The Beautiful Honesty of Joni Mitchell

The First Time I Met Prince, by Sheila E

June rambling: hope, not optimism

Libraries Are ‘Second Responders’

TheFour

We need hope, not optimism

In Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc

Alarm Over Use of Facial Recognition as Groups Demand Federal Moratorium

This is not sustainable: Analysis shows massive gap between CEO and workers’ pay is getting worse

Trade Wars: A Real-Life Game of Thrones

The tax cuts effect

The Arctic Is Thawing So Fast, Scientists Are Losing Their Measuring Tools

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Medical device approval process and the Equal Rights Amendment

Amy Biancolli: Women always know their bodies are not their own

The Catholic Church spent $10 million on lobbyists in a fight to stymie priest sex abuse suits

Auschwitz Is Not a Metaphor – The new exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage gets everything right — and fixes nothing

Human remains on Canadian beach are Irish famine victims from 1847

How archaeologists found the last American slave ship and one famous descendent of that passage

Let Your Voice Be Heard! Radio: A Criminal Injustice Story – The Central Park Five have been exonerated and their story is finally being heard. But, there is still so much work to be done and Why I Can’t Bring Myself to Watch “When They See Us”

Why Narcissists And Gaslighters Blatantly Lie — And Get Away With It

When Libraries Are ‘Second Responders’

Vlogbrothers: On Sharing the Walk

Dooky Chase owner Leah Chase

What James Holzhauer’s Jeopardy Streak Meant

To Evade Pre-Prohibition Drinking Laws, New Yorkers Created the World’s Worst Sandwich

How to Prepare Your Bedroom for an Emergency

8 City Names We Bet You Can’t Pronounce – Skaneateles, NY, U.S.A. I can, actually

The English Word That Hasn’t Changed in Sound or Meaning in 8,000 Years

What’s My Line? – Doris Day’s FIRST Television Appearance in 1954

This film was entirely made with AI

When you get that ‘friend request’ from someone… who’s really not your ‘friend’

Now I Know: The Goalie Who Wouldn’t Stop and Why You Shouldn’t Tick off a Tiger and Where No Kidney Stone Has Gone Before and Why you may be playing basketball in your slippers and The Casual Slur in Your Utility Drawer and The Coffee Brand That is a Total Lie and The Desert’s No Fly Zone

MUSIC

Why We Build the Wall – Original Cast of Hadestown

‘Be More Chill’ parody of Michael in the Bathroom

2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dr. John on Letterman

The Monster Song – Freezepop

Bitter Sweet Symphony – The Verve

Dog Breath Variations of Frank Zappa

A tone poem from the symphonic cycle Ma Vlast (My Country), From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields – composed by Bedrich Smetana

Propane – Pinkard & Bowden

I’m Still Standing – Sonny Vande Putt

Africa and If I Needed Someone – MonaLisa Twins meets Mike Massé

That Year – Brandi Carlile

First Suite in E-flat – Gustav Holst

Coverville 1264: Cover Stories for Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle and CeeLo Green

People who sing daily live longer

THE FIRST YEAR AND THE WHO yes, we mean Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey

Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony Completed Using AI

Libraries: spaces transform into what you need

After January 1, any record label can issue a dubstep version of the 1923 hit ‘Yes! We Have No Bananas.’

libraryOne of my blog followers suggested this: The Room of Requirement from This American Life. The title reference is to Harry Potter.

Act 1 is In Praise of Limbo by Zoe Chace. “There is a library that’s on the border of Canada and the United States — literally on the border, with part of the library in each country.”

Act 2 is Book Fishing In America by Sean Cole. Imagine “a library where regular people can come and drop off their own unpublished books. Nothing is turned away. The books live there forever. It’s the kind of place that would never work in real life. But someone decided to try it.”

“Libraries aren’t just for books. They’re often spaces that transform into what you need them to be: a classroom, a cyber café, a place to find answers, a quiet spot to be alone. It’s actually kind of magical. This week, we have stories of people who roam the stacks and find unexpected things that just happen to be exactly what they required.”

Are you a librarian, or do you work in a library? Do you now or have you ever owned a “Secret Librarians of Fandom” button?
You NEED to listen to this week’s This American Life, “Room of Requirement,” or AT LEAST Act Three, “Growing Shelf Awareness” by Stephanie Foo. “Lydia Sigwarth spent a lot of time in her public library growing up – all day, almost every day, for six months straight.”

Seriously, if you work in a library and have 15 minutes spare right now, just click through and listen to Act Three.


For the 1st Time in More Than 20 Years, Copyrighted Works Will Enter Public Domain

“That deluge of works includes not just ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,’ by Robert Frost, which appeared first in the New Republic in 1923, but hundreds of thousands of books, musical compositions, paintings, poems, photographs, and films.

After January 1, any record label can issue a dubstep version of the 1923 hit ‘Yes! We Have No Bananas,’ any middle school can produce Theodore Pratt’s stage adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, and any historian can publish Winston Churchill’s The World Crisis with her own extensive annotations. Any artist can create and sell a feminist response to Marcel Duchamp’s seminal Dadaist piece, The Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even) and any filmmaker can remake Cecil B. DeMille’s original The Ten Commandments and post it on YouTube.

Duke Law has a full list of works released in the public domain this year.

Stupid idea: Replace libraries with Amazon?

In spite of, or perhaps BECAUSE of, all of the technological changes of the last quarter century, public library usage is skyrocketing.

AmazonThere’s this guy named Panos Mourdoukoutas, a regular contributor to Forbes magazine, who recently suggested in a now-deleted post that Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money. This is one of the most asinine ideas I’ve ever read.

He begins: “Amazon should open their own bookstores in all local communities. They can replace local libraries and save taxpayers lots of money, while enhancing the value of their stock.” There’s so much wrong with his first paragraph.

Communities pick library locations largely based on need, businesses on profits. That less lucrative part of town, the one that needs the library the most, may very well do without. Well, unless taxpayers are going to somehow subsidize Amazon to build in certain neighbors; there goes those taxpayer savings. So replacing a public library with a private, unaccountable business makes no sense.

And why would we want to enhance the value of Amazon stock? What is the social good of that? Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is currently considered THE richest person in the world. Many news outlets suggest Amazon employees are treated poorly and paid dismally. If Amazon started compensating its workers with a livable wage and decent benefits, THAT would save taxpayers money.

Panos correctly notes that “libraries served as a place where residents could hold their community events,” and this remains true. That “there’s no shortage of places to hold community events” is patently false.

He’s also right that “libraries… introduced video rentals and free internet access.” He argues that these services “don’t have the same value they used to” because of “the rise of ‘third places’ such as Starbucks.” But based on the line waiting for the local library branch to open, for many, the public library IS their “third place,” along with home and work. Not everyone has access to high speed Internet or can afford it!

Then he says, “Technology has turned physical books into collector’s items, effectively eliminating the need for library borrowing services.” That is preposterous. In spite of, or perhaps BECAUSE of, all of the technological changes of the last quarter century, public library usage is skyrocketing.

My guess is that Panos hasn’t visited a library in years, or accessed it remotely. Libraries help people with their taxes for free, offer classes for a variety of community members, catalog local history, utilize maker spaces, and even provide added benefits like community-accessible bike pumps and tools for on-the-spot repairs.

Panos Mourdoukoutas is also the guy who thinks Starbucks baristas should be paid by the number of drinks they serve, not an hourly wage. Yuck.

My bias, I should note, is as a librarian, on the boards of the in-the-process-of-merging Friends of the Albany Public Library and the Albany Public Library Foundation. But my participation on these boards is a function of recognizing since I was a child the vital function libraries have in serving their communities.

Here’s another rebuttal.