Archive for July, 2010

When my wife and I visited Copenhagen this summer, we were impressed by the number of people who bicycled around town.  Indeed, the entire city seemed perfectly designed for bicycles with some streets having special lanes designated for just that.  Not only is bicycling good for the environment but it is also good exercise for people, as this writer can attest to while trying to keep up with his bicycling wife and dad during vacation.

Now anyone can get a bike and get going, but can they look great while doing it?  Let’s face it, as the blogger Copenhagen Cycle Chic has shown us, the Danes are chic fashionistas!  I even snapped this quick photo myself as substantiated proof of this claim!

Photo by John Weibull


I stumbled across pictures of this magnificent public library in Mexico City while going through Flickr.  A big thank you to *CliNKer* for taking these beautiful pictures of José Vasconcelos Library and uploading them!

Photo by SSgt Desiree N. Palacios, USAF PA

When I visited Florida I saw a sign with the following twelve rules, and I thought they were pretty good:

  1. If you open it, CLOSE IT!
  2. If you turn it on, TURN IT OFF!
  3. If you unlock it, LOCK IT!
  4. If you break it, REPAIR IT!
  5. If you can’t fix it, CALL IN SOMEONE WHO CAN!
  6. If you borrow it, RETURN IT!
  7. If you use it, TAKE CARE OF IT!
  8. If you make a mess, CLEAN IT UP!
  9. If you move it, PUT IT BACK!
  10. If it belongs to somebody else, GET PERMISSION TO USE IT!
  11. If you don’t know how to operate it, LEAVE IT ALONE!
  12. If it doesn’t concern you, DON’T MESS WITH IT!

Photo by Sten Rüdrich from Wikimedia Commons

According to an article by, Director James Cameron is set to make $350 million dollars off his blockbuster hit Avatar.  $350 million dollars is a lot of money, and it got me thinking:  What would I do with $350 million dollars?  What would you do with $350 million dollars?

I think I’d keep $100 million dollars for my family and I, and then donate the rest to worthy causes.  Or I’d build one of the most beautiful libraries in the world and make it available free of charge to the public.  I can’t even imagine having $1 million dollars, let alone $350 million dollars.  When I think about it, I’m not sure I want to have that much money.  You always hear about lottery winners winning all this money only to end up broke or depressed a few years down the line.  Money doesn’t buy you happiness it would seem.  But it couldn’t hurt.

National Archives photo

With the mercury rising across America, people are sweltering, seeking any refuge from the oppressive heat that they can find.  Under these conditions, what person would not want to cool off with a cold one?

But what to drink, what to drink?  Bud Light?  Nah, too simple.  Corona?  Been there and done that.  Heineken?  Too Dutch.  Chateau Jiahu?  Say what?

If you are looking for the ultimate thrill ride in fermented beverage, you can’t go wrong with a Chateau Jiahu from Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales.

Here’s the scoop:  About 9,000 years ago in a Neolithic village of Jiahu in the Henan province of Northern China, a bunch of thirsty people concocted a mixed beverage comprised of rice, honey and fruit that they fermented in pottery jars.  Mind you, this was before the people in the Middle East were cranking out the barley beer and grape wine.

In a 2005 journal article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Pennsylvania molecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern first mentioned the Jiahu beverage.  He then contacted the people at Dogfish Head to see if they would recreate the recipe, which they did and is now available in limited quantities.


Additional Sources:  Scientific American, Discover Magazine

How ironic that in the same week Fox News Chicago bashes libraries the Chicago Tribune publishes a story lauding public libraries as summertime havens for out-of-school children.

Original article.

Photo by Sean Dreilinger from Flickr

Though I commend the librarians for taking an interest in helping children and watching after their welfare, I think it’s irresponsible for adults to leave children unsupervised and unattended.  Librarians are not nannies or daycare directors, and cannot be responsible for other people’s children.  In some places people leaving their children unattended can be construed as child abandonment:  a crime.  Leaving a 6 and an 8 year old alone at a library is unconscionable to me.  They could be abducted, or injured, and God only knows what.  I also think that parents miss out on that wonderful bonding experience with their children at the library, reading books together and hiding behind the stacks.

Libraries are wonderful institutions, but children should not be left unattended unless it’s part of some library sanctioned reading camp or something.  Just my opinion.

In a recent segment by Fox News Chicago, the question was posed:  “Are Libraries Necessary, or a Waste of Tax Money?”  With Illinois unable to pay its bills, people are wondering whether the $120 million dollars that Chicago allocates to the libraries is worth it?

Photo by Shawn Econo from Flickr

The Fox News team donned an undercover camera and took to the stacks,  if you will, to investigate.  What they found out from their in-depth, and unbiased and balanced observation was shocking!  During an entire hour, which is a million years in journalism years, they counted 300 patrons, most of whom were using the library’s free access to the internet, and not looking at books.  Oh the horror!  One can only conclude that the rest of the 4,700 visitors to the Harold Washington Library, must also be on a similar, non-book quest.  With soaring heat temperatures, perhaps they are merely using the beautiful $144 million dollar building as a cooling shelter.

Oh no, libraries are not bastions of  intellectual pursuit, repositories of knowledge, the great equalizer for the common man, they are a drain on the taxpayer!  The irony is of course that with the economy in the dumps, libraries are seeing an upsurge in patrons when the tax base supporting them is eroding.  There are almost 800 libraries in Illinois, and people borrow over 88 million times a year!  I do not doubt those figures, just this year alone I’ve borrowed over ten books, and I’m a casual user.

The segment by Fox News Chicago was certainly flawed in research methodology, and narrow in representative scope, but it did succeed in engaging the thinking process, which is essential to spirited debate and a functioning Republic.

$120 million dollars is a lot of money, and I would love to see a follow-up report where Fox News Chicago investigates where the money goes.  Fiscal responsibility is a must in these slim times.

Jim Tobin thinks that libraries are obsolete, and that most of the money spent on libraries are for salaries and pensions.  I had a chuckle when I read that Fox News Chicago thought that some money allocated to libraries could be used for the CTA, policemen or other government pensions!  That makes no sense, take pensions away from one employee and give it to another?  That still doesn’t solve anything, and if we close libraries we will have even more unemployed people.  But this time, they might not have anywhere to go.

Still, it could be worse, it could be the Library of Congress with a budget of over $600 million dollars.