Saturday, February 23, 2008

Secrets of Cambridge 'porn' library revealed

By Stephen Adams
Last Updated: 6:29am GMT 14/02/2008

For decades generations of Cambridge undergraduates have fantasised about a secret stash of Victorian pornography in the university's library tower.

  • Stephen Fry's take on the 'pornography library'
  • Many have tried to gain access to the chamber to uncover its illicit secrets. So intrigued was Stephen Fry by the collection that he wrote about it in his first novel, The Liar.

    Secrets of Cambridge 'porn' library revealed
    The Victorian treasure trove in the Cambridge library turned out to be books on marriage and the etiquette of romance

    Despite the brilliant scientists, spies and politicians that the university has produced, no student is believed to have gained access to the closely-guarded hideaway.

    But now it seems all their efforts have been in vain.

    For all that is contained within "this magnificent erection", as Neville Chamberlain is said to have described the 1934 tower, are distinctly restrained guides on the finer points of Victorian romantic etiquette.

    According to the university's authorities, the 17 floors of the 157ft-high tower contain nothing more racy than books with titles such as The Lover's Guide to Courtship (Illustrated).

    Vanessa Lacey, the manager of the Cambridge University Library Tower Project, said: "The traditional student rumour is that the contents of the tower are pornographic.

    "In fact we now know it to be a treasure trove for people who want to know more about Victorian society, and among the books are these late 19th and early 20th century lifestyle guides designed to teach young couples the art of courting. At the time they were acquired, they were not considered the sort of thing that serious students should be reading, so they were put away.

    "Many of the 200,000 books in the tower have barely been read and some were never opened, but now they give us a fascinating insight into the life and society of the time."

    The university has made the disclosure because it is in the process of putting all the titles online.

    The books - likely to be of interest to historians rather than excitable students - that have been unearthed include A Golden Guide To Matrimony (1882).

    It advises: "It should be the young man's duty to make the first overtures towards a closer relationship than that of mere friendship.

    "Young women cannot be too reserved in this respect. Prudence is of the highest importance."

    Other titles include Flirting Made Easy and Courtship And Marriage, which sensibly warns: "The young man who marries not, except in a few exceptional cases arising out of ill health, deformity, malformation, or great perversity of temper, or eccentricity of character, fails in one of the most palpable duties of life."

    Students of pornography can take heart, however, because more recent erotica is kept there thanks to its copyright library status.

    Mrs Lacey said: "There's plenty of pornography in the library which is more recent.

    "People can come and have a look at it - for their research. But there's nothing terribly racy from the 19th century. What we found is the Mills and Boon of the era."

    Publishers wishing to reproduce photographs on this page should phone 44 (0) 207 931 2921 or email

    Friday, February 22, 2008

    Detroit Public Schools Book Depository: Warehouse full of abandoned hope

    by Blake

    A Blog Post and Flickr Set from the forgotten Detroit Public Schools Book Depository. Pallet after pallet of mid-1980s Houghton-Mifflin textbooks, still unwrapped in their original packaging, seem more telling of our failures than any vacant edifice. The floor is littered with flash cards, workbooks, art paper, pencils, scissors, maps, deflated footballs and frozen tennis balls, reel-to-reel tapes. Almost anything you can think of used in the education of a child during the 1980s is there, much of it charred or rotted beyond recognition.

    Oddest Book Title of the Year contest

    by effinglibrarian

    Oddest book titles prize shortlist announced.

    The Bookseller magazine has announced the shortlist for the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year:

    I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen
    How to Write a How to Write Book
    Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues
    Cheese Problems Solved
    If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs
    People who Mattered in Southend and Beyond: From King Canute to Dr Feelgood

    Visit the site and vote for your favorite.

    (although I suspect one or two of those were selected as finalists for not being "odd" so much as "amusing")

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    US court attacks web freedom; enjoins out of existence

    by Stephen Soldz

    One of the most important web sites in recent months has been Created by several brave journalists committed to transparency, Wikieaks has published important leaked documents, such as the Rules of Engagement for Iraq [see my The Secret Rules of Engagement in Iraq], the 2003 and 2004 Guantanamo Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures, and evidence of major bank fraud in Kenya [see also here] that apparently affected the Kenyan elections. Wikileaks has upset the Chinese government enough that they are attempting to censor it, as is the Thai military junta.

    Now censorship has extended to the United States of America, land of the First Amendment. As of Friday, February 15, those going to have gotten Server not found messages. Today I received a message explaining that a California court has granted an injunction written and requested by lawyers for the Cayman Island's Bank Julius Baer. It seems that the bank is trying to keep the public from accessing documents that may reveal shady dealings. Wikileaks was only given a couple of hours notice "by email" and was not even represented at the hearing where a U.S. judge took such a drastic step attempting to totally shut down an important information outlet. The result was this totally unprecedented attempt to totally wipe out the existence of Wikileaks:

    "Dynadot shall immediately clear and remove all DNS hosting records for the domain name and prevent the domain name from resolving to the website or any other website or server other than a blank park page, until further order of this Court."

    There have, of course, been previous attempts by the U.S. Government and others to block publication of particular documents, most famously in 1971 when the Nixon administration attempted to stop publication by the New York Times of excerpts from the Pentagon Papers, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg. But trying to close down an entire site in this way is truly unprecedented. Not even the Nixon administration, when they sought to block publication of the Pentagon Papers, considered closing down the New York Times in response.

    If this injunction stands, it will set an incredible precedent for all of us who use the web to unveil misbehavior by the rich and powerful. Fortunately, Wikileaks is fighting this unconstitutional attack on press freedom, aided by six pro bono attorneys in San Francisco. While Wikileaks has so far not issued any particular call for support, all who value freedom should stand ready to offer whatever support they need.

    Meanwhile, Wikileaks still exists. Its founders, knowing that governments and institutions will go to extreme lengths to censor the truth, have created an extensive network of cover names from which one can access their materials or continue leaking the secrets of governments and the corrupt rich and powerful. Thus, everything is available at, among other names. Let the leaks continue!

    Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Institute for the Study of Violence of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is a member of Roslindale Neighbors for Peace and Justice. He maintains the Psyche, Science, and Society blog.

    Head of GAO quits, citing censorship

    by French Press Agency (Posted by Josh Mitteldorf)

    The head of the audit and investigative arm of the US Congress announced his resignation Friday, citing "real limitations" on what he could do.

    David Walker, 51, a respected voice on fiscal matters, said he was making an early departure from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) to head a new public interest foundation.

    "As Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO, there are real limitations on what I can do and say in connection with key public policy issues, especially issues that directly relate to GAO's client -- the Congress," Walker said in a statement.

    He did not elaborate but Walker last year issued an unusually downbeat assessment of his country's future in a report that drew parallels with the end of the Roman empire.

    He had warned that the US government was on a "burning platform" of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action was not taken soon.

    There were "striking similarities" between America's current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, he had said.

    These included "declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government."

    "This was a very difficult decision for me," Walker said Friday of his decision to leave the GAO, which he joined in November for what was to be a 15-year term of office. His resignation would be effective March 12.

    He said he would become president and chief executive officer of the newly established Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which would "educate and activate" Americans while supporting "sensible policy solutions" on various issues.

    "My new position will provide me with the ability and resources to more aggressively address a range of current and emerging challenges facing our country," he said.

    "This move will enable me to sharpen my messages and bring focus and attention to the fiscal and other key sustainability challenges that I and others have been discussing during the past several years," he said.


    Saturday, February 16, 2008

    Distance Learning/E-Learning for Iraq: Concept and Road Map, by Ala’a Al-Din J. Kadhem Al-Radhi

    Bulletin, February/March 2008

    Ala'a Al-Din J. Kadhem Al-Radhi (, is a former senior engineer/observer in the Iraq program of the United Nations – International Telecommunications Union (UN-ITU) [] and former information systems manager in the Iraq program for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) []. He is currently a consultant in engineering, management and non-government organization (NGO) work and studying for his master of science degree in computer, information and network security at the Jordan campus of DePaul University. He serves in leadership roles in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and is an active member in a variety of organizations including European Communication Research and Education Association; International Association for Media and Communication Research; Arab Knowledge & Management Society; United Nations Development Group; Association for Computing Machinery; Internet Society; Digital Divide Network; UN Global Alliance for ICT in Development; International Center for Information Ethics; Public Interest Registry; Arab Advisors Group; International Task Force on Women and IT; and Iraqi Cultural Council.

    Empowering distance education is crucial for Iraq after decades of traditional learning. Iraqi people need the knowledge and skills to compete in an increasingly technology-driven world economy. Iraq needs new models of education facilitated by educational technology. Some of the most promising new educational approaches are being developed through e-learning and virtual schools. This era is an exciting, creative and transforming one for students, teachers, administrators, policymakers and parents. It is time for Iraqi higher education entities to take advantage of this quiet revolution.

    The conditions in Iraq are very challenging for information professionals due to a variety of factors, not the least of which is the physical danger caused by war. This paper, presented at the Iraqi higher education conference held in Irbil, Kurdistan, in December 2007, highlights a very practical area where information professionals can apply their knowledge and skills to re-build the intellectual competence of Iraq to re-establish its place in the global economy while physical conditions on the ground improve at an uncertain pace.

    Distance learning (DL) is a field of education that focuses on using technology and instructional systems design to deliver education to students who are not physically on site to receive their education. The historical evolution of distance education has been in four main phases, each with its own organizational form derived from the main form of communication:

    1. Correspondence systems. These systems originated at the end of the 19th century and are still the most widely used form of distance education in less developed countries. Based on a study guide in printed text and often accompanied by audio and video components such as records and slides, the interaction in the correspondence method is by letters and other written or printed documents sent through postal systems.

    2. Educational television and radio systems. This method uses various delivery technologies, such as terrestrial, satellite and cable television and radio, to deliver live or recorded lectures to both individual home-based learners and groups of learners in remote classrooms where some face-to-face support might be provided. This model is still widely used in dense populations and rural areas within countries such as India. For Iraq, this option was the only one available for more than three decades and was only available in secondary schools. It was never considered as an approach to higher education.

    3. Multimedia systems. These systems encompass text, audio, video and computer-based materials and usually some face-to-face learner support delivered to both individuals and groups. In this approach, which is used by the open universities in Iraq, instruction is no longer the work of one individual, but rather the work of teams of specialists: media specialists, information specialists and instructional design and learning specialists. Programs are prepared for distribution to large numbers of learners, usually located across a whole country. For Iraq, this option started to be deployed with limited resources and applications in higher education entities during the last 15 years, synchronized with global information technology (IT) deployments. The reach of these programs was limited for many reasons, including the period of United Nations (UN) sanctions on Iraq (1990-2003) which brought highly negative consequences in a general lack of hope, a lack of opportunities and the departure of many skilled academics to institutions abroad. The higher education system at that time faced many negative circumstances.

    4. Internet-based systems. In these systems, multimedia (text, audio, video and computer-based) materials in electronic format are delivered to individuals through computers, along with access to the databases and electronic libraries that enable teacher-student and student-student as well as one-to-one, one-to many, and many-to-many interactions, synchronously or asynchronously, through e-mail, computer conferences, bulletin boards and other devices. For Iraq this began modestly in partnerships with global higher education entities. The founders were very optimistic about the potential of these partnerships, but the deteriorating security circumstances and the killing of many Iraqi academics has resulted in a new wave of emigration of higher education faculty and staff. In consequence there have been very few fruitful results recently.

    In spite of some initial challenges in Iraqi distance learning partnerships, the advantages of distance learning for many stakeholders is so great that it remains a strong option for developing intellectual and economic capacity in Iraq.

    Students. One of the biggest advantages for students is the flexibility. Distance learning makes education accessible and available anytime, anywhere there is an Internet connection. This feature reduces scheduling conflicts and therefore increases options and opportunities. Distance learning also often provides access to courses that may not be available elsewhere in conventional learning environments. One of the biggest advantages for students in Iraq is that security risks are greatly reduced by eliminating the need for physical travel to higher education sites.

    Government. The benefits for government accrue both as a supporter and a consumer of distance learning. As a consumer, government agencies can increase their capacity for productive functioning through increased access to opportunities for updating and retraining personnel without requiring staff to travel. As a supporter of distance learning (most universities are government supervised), there is often an increased cost-effectiveness (distance learning can often serve more students for a lower cost).

    Universities. In many cases distance-learning initiatives return a surplus to the university. In Iraq, the ability to keep the institutions of higher education viable is essential to maintaining and rebuilding national intellectual capacity to facilitate growth in all sectors. Distance education can also enable a university to expand its reach and increase the diversity of the student body, which can also contribute positively to traditional on-campus student retention.
    Overall, distance learning provides significant advantages for all participants:

    • Balancing inequalities between age groups
    • Extending geographical access to education
    • Delivering educational campaigns and other education for large audiences
    • Providing speedy and efficient training for key target groups
    • Expanding the capacity for education in new and multidisciplinary subject areas
    • Offering the combination of education with work and family life
    • Developing multiple competencies through recurrent and continuing education
    • Enhancing the international dimension of educational experience
    • Improving the quality of existing educational services

    For Iraq distance learning is totally a win-win case. In addition to the items mentioned above, Iraq has spent decades being isolated from the global higher education network. This isolation has been especially painful since Iraq was one of the pioneer nations in the region to establish advanced higher education institutions (for example, the University of Baghdad was established in 1921, based on the United Kingdom model of higher education curricula). Distance learning allows Iraq once again to provide world-class education to its citizens and join in the global academic development of knowledge and opportunity.

    There are very real challenges to implementing distance learning on a broad scale in Iraq. The biggest challenge, of course, remains security. The degree to which Iraqi universities are ready for this transition also must be considered and addressed in both general and specific ways. Aside from basic challenges to the implementation of e-learning on a national scale, there are also challenges in developing learning environments that effectively engage the current generation to help them reach their full potential. Careful thought must be given to building a curriculum that will equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to be competitive in a global, information-based economy and to be contributing citizens of an emerging new Iraq. In this innovative environment for Iraq it is likely that assumptions about education will need to be questioned, which may provoke some anxiety. But Iraqi policy makers and the Higher Education Council should do their best to address these challenging issues. One of the fastest solutions is to start these programs in safe areas around the country.

    Recommendations and Road Map
    Some of these challenges can be addressed through a commitment to the development and use of open educational resources and practices to share proven tools, services, learning designs and content. Regarding policies, institutional frameworks and business models, it is essential that the distance learning initiatives in Iraq strengthen leadership, engage in innovative budgeting, focus on improving instructor training and provide strong support for e-learning. Such support requires access to e-learning options to all students and faculty as well as designing quality measures and accreditation standards for e-learning that mirror those traditionally required for course credit. Establishing partnerships with highly esteemed e-learning and virtual universities outside of Iraq will also assist in addressing some challenges in development and implementation.

    The Iraqi Higher Education Council can make use of regional expertise in related areas due to the similarities of overall national components. There are three types of distance learning institutions. “Dual Mode” refers to universities that have extended educational activities to provide off-campus programs as well as on-campus programs simultaneously. “Single Mode” refers to universities that dedicate all of their activities to the unique purpose of distance education. “Virtual” refers to local universities that aim to provide world-class education without boundaries so that students do not have to leave their countries to study abroad. The following table summarizes some of the regional Arab higher education institutions that have adopted distance learning /e-learning programs and may be good partners:

    Table 1. Regional Arab higher education institutions that have adopted distance learning/e-learning programs
    Local Institution Type Country
    Cairo University Dual mode Egypt
    Alexandria University Dual mode
    Assiut University Dual mode
    Ain Shams University Dual mode
    Balqa'a University Dual mode Jordan
    German Jordan University (GJU) Dual mode
    Open University of Libya Single mode Libya
    Continuing Education University Single mode Algeria
    Al-Quds Open University Single mode Palestine
    Damascus University Dual mode Syria
    Syria Virtual University (SVU) Virtual
    Zayed University Dual mode United Arab Emirates (UAE)
    American University of Sharjah
    Dual mode
    American University of Dubai
    Dual mode
    Arab Open University (AOU) Single mode Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
    (KSA), Bahrain, Jordan,
    Legbanon and Egypt.
    Their headquarters is in

    Support of open access and open educational practices and resources will be essential for enabling the rapid spread of models for pedagogy and technical implementation. Key steps in this support include enhancement of Internet access (technology infrastructure), development of digital content (including the training of instructors on effective use) and developing integrated data systems so that administrators and educators have the information they need to increase efficiency and execute assessment strategies to inform and improve instruction for all students.

    The Iraqi Higher Education Council should start a campaign with related stakeholders, including academics, government, think tanks, the business community and other experts. This integrated approach should generate a policy paper indicating the best road map for achieving a national distance learning strategy. When published openly, the road map can more easily guide the implementation by many stakeholders simultaneously.

    Can It Work for Iraq?
    The Arab region has witnessed a remarkable increase in distance higher education over the past two decades. Iraqis have been left behind due to the recent prolonged conflict. The key current challenge question: Can it work for Iraq this time? There is a strong feeling that this initiative is possible now because Iraq does have the nationwide, geographically distributed higher education infrastructure that can be used as a nucleus for accommodating online distance-learning programs. This infrastructure includes (but is not limited to) these elements:

    • 20 government universities
    • Excellent higher education staff (both in Iraq and abroad) that can implement such programs with high degree of professionalism
    • Excellent governmental budget resources with a possibility of private-public partnership scenarios
    • An ability to build partnerships with other international universities
    • An ability take advantage of regional online distance learning educational programs that have been already deployed in some neighboring countries, such as Jordan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lebanon, Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)
    Implementing a distance learning strategy in Iraq is a sensible way to address the critical education needs of a country in the midst of uncertain security conflicts on the ground. Distance learning programs include many elements in which information professionals excel – the management of information resources and networks for access to content, for pedagogical resource sharing and for technical delivery of interactive learning environments. There are opportunities for Iraqi information professionals to play a strong role in the development of these strategies. There are also many opportunities for ASIS&T members to contribute to the development of these networks, both within Iraq and among partners around the world. The history of Iraq is grounded in a commitment to learning and knowledge. Building on this legacy, with the assistance of information professionals, Iraq can reinvigorate its pioneering, intellectual spirit.

    Rainbow Bookshelf

    Over the time you’ve seen a lot of bookshelves on Freshome, but what I’ve found today is really impressive. I was browsing Flickr and I found this beautiful example of organizing books by color and the smart guy that managed to do it, is user chotda. This is a very good way of changing the whole aspect of a bookshelf with a little bit of creativity. I guess you’ll have to pay more attention to the book’s cover from now on if you want to reproduce that effect and have your own rainbow bookshelf.

    Color BookshelfRainbow Bookshelf

    Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?

    Posted February 14th, 2008 by Bibliofuture

    The New York Times has a readers comment section that has the following statement then question.

    Susan Jacoby's new book bemoans the state of American culture. Not only are citizens ignorant about essential knowledge, she says, but they also don’t think it matters.

    Why do you think Americans are perceived as being hostile to global knowledge?

    Click here to see the NYT readers comment section.

    The book by Susan Jacoby that the NYT is referring to is "The Age of American Unreason". Here is the review of the book in the Los Angeles Times.

    25 Awesome Beta Research Tools from Libraries Around the World

    Posted February 14th, 2008 by Blake

    Ellyssa over @ iLibrarian pointed the way to 25 Awesome Beta Research Tools from Libraries Around the World:

    If you're tired of using the same old search box on your local library website for research projects, it might be time to broaden your horizons. Try out one of these in-the-works betas sponsored by world-class libraries around the world. From academic libraries like that at MIT or renowned research centers like the Library of Congress, the following beta research tools feature innovative tricks to connect you with the most relevant, valid results on the Internet and in their card catalogs. Melvil Dewey would be proud.

    BC Library locking out workers; all branches to close

    Bad News For the Greater Victoria Public Library, where all 8 branches are expected to be closed indefinitely as of Sunday at 5 p.m. after the library board voted Wednesday to lock out unionized employees.

    The move is the latest step in a five-month-long labour dispute between the Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 410.

    The labour dispute "is to the stage where the library can no longer operate viably," said library chief negotiator Ron Brunsden.

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    18th World Book Fair begins in Capital

    Feb 2

    The 18th World Book Fair, the largest in the Afro-Asian region, showcasing books on youth and children kicked off in the Capital on Saturday.

    The major attraction of the Book Fair is the presentation by Russia, which is the guest of honour country at the fair.

    The other features of the fair are Youth Pavilion, Children Pavilion and the pavilion comprising books on and by Mahatma Gandhi.

    While the Children pavilion will showcase everyday activities for and by children, the Youth Pavilion will conduct a variety of programmes for the youth.

    Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Sahitya Academy Award winner and eminent writer Prof U R Anantha Murthy said the books have romance with them and they also grow with the readers provided the reader is tolerant, curious and have a sense of patriotism.
    "There are great writers and books in the languages that were not a part of mainstream. The languages need to be treated with respect. They need to be popular with masses," he said.

    The Human Resources and Development Minister Arjun Singh, in a message, said "it is a cliché to say that books are man's best friend, but sometimes it is refreshing to repeat clichés because they carry the truths of life. The role of publishing industry coupled with the contribution of the writers, scientists, scholars etc is going to assume much greater significance," he said.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Why Professional Librarian Journals Should Evolve into Blogs

    Marcus Banks Says he became firmly convinced that the traditional journal model is antiquated for sharing research and knowledge among librarians. A better course is to develop and nurture excellent blogs, with multimedia capabilities and guaranteed preservation of the postings. This could be an entirely new blog that starts from scratch, or an established journal that evolves into a blog.

    HarperCollins Will Post Free Books on the Web

    In an attempt to increase book sales, HarperCollins Publishers will begin offering free electronic editions of some of its books on its Web site, including a novel by Paulo Coelho and a cookbook by the Food Network star Robert Irvine.

    The idea is to give readers the opportunity to sample the books online in the same way that prospective buyers can flip through books in a bookstore.

    UNESCO and IFLA launch Information Literacy Logo Contest

    UNESCO and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) invite everyone to propose an international Logo to identify the work on information literacy. The aim of creating this Logo is to make communication easier among those who carry out information literacy projects, their communities and societies in general. The Logo will be available free of charge and promoted as an international symbol of information literacy.

    10 Non-Librarian Blogs To Read in 2008

    Our first attempt at recommending NON-Librarian blogs includes sites to make your life better, improve your finances, help you be a better marketer, and even one that lets you see other folks deepest darkest secrets. I've included the "honorable mention" list, and a few "see alsos" below. Our goal was to make a list of sites you can read to learn something new that doesn't entirely focus on libraries. Read on below to see why each site made the list. As always, if you don't like the list, supply your own, or let me know who we missed or who we should've left off.

    Boing Boing (Feed)
    The Bookslut Blog (Feed)
    The Consumerist (Feed)
    Lifehacker (Feed)
    Open Access News (Feed)
    Post Secret (Feed)
    Read Write Web (Feed)
    Seth Godin (Feed)
    Slashdot (Feed)
    Snopes - What's New (Feed)

    In no particular order, here's more on each site, along with the runner ups.

    I must admit, I Love Boing Boing. You never know what you're going to see on Boing Boing, from Unicorns and Bigfoot to DRM and the Creative Commons. They call it "a directory of wonderful things" and it certainly is. They're one of the most popular sites on any list for good reason, they set the trends.

    Post Secret just barely beat out Cute Overload & Seen Reading in our "silly diversions" category. Post Secret is so compelling it's hard to pass up. PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.

    Did you know Patriots QB Tom Brady was once a cast member of The Brady Bunch? Snopes Knows The Truth. Just a bit more popular than Common Craft for "answers", at first glance you might think debunking urban myths is silly, but it doesn't take long until you'll realize this is reference work at it's finest.

    Jessa Crispin is snarky, sometimes a bit vulgar, but she knows books. The Bookslut Blog is one of about a billion book blogs, but the attitude makes it a stand out. Jessica beat out Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Book Ninja and Future Of The Book.

    I started LISNews 8 years ago because of Slashdot. There is no shortage of geek blogs out there, but Slashdot started it all. It's still one of the best places to keep up on news for nerds. I debated whether or not to make this a link to Doggdot instead of just Slashdot, but in the end figured Doggdot might be a bit too much. Slashdot is "news for nerds, stuff that matters." Often overlooked these days for newer sites like Digg, Slashdot still points the way to important tech news.

    Seth Godin is marketing. Seth's popularity put him ahead of Scott and Experienceology for marketing blogs. There are quite a few marketing and customer service blogs out there, but Seth seems to be the most popular with LISNews readers, and for good reason. He's one of the most well known marketing gurus out there.

    Do you ever leave your house? Do you ever buy anything? If you're a consumer, you should read The Consumerist, more practical than Freakonomics, their about page says it all: "We're biased towards the consumer. We favor bad company stories over happy customer tales. We're not anti-capitalist; we're anti-stupid-capitalist."

    Perter Suber has been covering news from the open access movement for years. Open access is all about "Removing the barriers to serious research." Though a more general Academic Blog like Wired Campus might be a logical choice, a more focused blog proved to be the most popular choice.

    Lifehacker: Tech tricks, tips and downloads for getting things done. More general than Google Tutor, It's blog on software and personal productivity recommends downloads, web sites and shortcuts that help you work smarter and save time. Hack your life, make it more livable.

    I'm almost embarrassed to admit, I'm not sure I had ever seen Read Write Web before it was the most nominated site on this list, and one of the most read blogs in the world. They say they provide Web Technology news, reviews and analysis. It's a crowded field, to say the least, but they stand out with insightful and original posts. Just ahead of sites like Social Media, Weblogg-Ed, and Infodoodads.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    Bush 'kills' Freedom of Information Act compliance officer

    Buried on page A17 of Wednesday's Washington Post is a bit of a non-surprise: President George W. Bush has effectively killed a position monitoring compliance with government efforts to release documents.

    Late last year, Washington watchdogs won over a reluctant President Bush, who agreed to sign a law enforcing better compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

    "But in his budget request this week," the Post's Elizabeth Williamson writes, "Bush proposed shifting a newly created ombudsman's position from the National Archives and Records Administration to the Department of Justice. Because the ombudsman would be the chief monitor of compliance with the new law, that move is akin to killing the critical function, some members of Congress and watchdog groups say."

    "Justice represents the agencies when they're sued over FOIA . . . It doesn't make a lot of sense for them to be the mediator," staff lawyer for the National Security Archive Kristin Adair told the Post. The group has filed suit against the White House to force it to preserve e-mails relating to Iraq and the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame Bush's spokesman says may have been lost.

    Also bemoaning the revelation was Senate Democratic Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT).

    "Once again, the White House has shown they intend to act contrary to the intent of Congress," Leahy told Williamson in a statement. "I will continue to work through the appropriations process to make sure that the National Archives and Records Administration has the necessary resources and funds to comply with the OPEN Government Act, and we will continue to work in Congress to make necessary reforms to the Freedom of Information Act."

    The White House said, through a spokesman, that "only the Department of Justice, as the government's lead on FOIA issues and mediation in legal matters, is properly situated and empowered to mediate issues between requestors and the federal government."

    The law Bush signed last year -- the Open Government Act of 2007 -- requires that government agencies released information Americans request within 20 days of face fines. Bush inked the law New Year's Eve. The ombudsman's office would hear disputes over unmet requests and monitor the agencies facing examinations.

    Under the planned deployment, the ombudsman was to be part of the National Archives, where most documents eventually end up and are usually sent out from.

    The Bush Administration is already under pressure from Congress for its alleged politicization of the Justice Department. Nine US Attorneys were fired for what Democrats say were "political" reasons; the White House has refused to allow aides to testify to Congressional committees about what they know.