i am really a librarian: in which i attend my first ola, and get paid for it, too

For the next three days, I'll be attending the Ontario Library Association's annual Superconference, always referred to simply as "OLA". As the name implies, this is a gigantic conference covering issues related to all three types of libraries - public, academic, and special. You can see a program here.

In library school, we were strongly encouraged to attend OLA. Students can volunteer to help run conference sessions in exchange for free attendance. I never did (honestly, I never even considered it), so now I attend my very first OLA, already a professional, and in place of three working days. Fun!

Here are the sessions I am hoping to attend:
- Creating an Accessible and Inclusive Library
- Young Adult Readers' Advisory: Create best practices today
- The Community-Led Library Model and How to Get Started
- The Tween Scene: A year of programming for ages 10-14
- Booktalking 3.0: Engaging and inspiring readers online
- Sub-Urban Beats: Hip-hop programming in the library (presented by two managers from Mississauga Library System, including the acting manager of my department)
- Maker Culture in Action
- Battle of the Books: It begins with co-operation and ends with competition
 - Plus a "gala luncheon" with special guest speaker Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut who lived on the International Space Station for five months and tweeted from space to more than one million followers.

I'm really looking forward to all the ideas I'll be exposed to, and being part of the Ontario library community. At the same time, events like these can be challenging for me, socially and in terms of physical energy. But I'm confident it will be more fun than not. 


support-the-troops hypocrisy continues; angry veterans call for fantino's resignation

I am posting this article mainly so the commenter called "conservatives are lying scum" can repost his or her comments here. (You can currently read them on this old post: harper's support for veterans: wear a poppy. do nothing else.)
Veterans who were in Ottawa to lobby against the closing of their regional offices left a brief, emotional meeting Tuesday with Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino visibly frustrated and saying they were disrespected.

The federal government has already closed one office in Prince George, B.C., and plans to close eight more on Jan. 31.

In a news conference, a group of veterans said their Tuesday meeting did not go well. Video from the meeting shows Fantino and veterans trading testy exchanges.

Ron Clarke, a 36-year veteran of the Forces, said the meeting was "unbelievable, unacceptable and shameful. The way we were treated is just not kosher." He demanded that Fantino resign and said he would campaign "across Canada" against the Conservatives during the next election.

Roy Lamore, a Second World War veteran from Thunder Bay, Ont., called it a "damn disgrace" that Fantino sent three Conservative MPs — Parm Gill, Erin O’Toole, and Laurie Hawn — to argue for the closures.

"There are a few things [Fantino] should be told," Lamore said. "Taught manners is number 1, number 2 to respect the veterans, and number 3, it's time that he better wake up and give us a break on these things."

Fantino released a statement saying that he and the veterans had a 'candid conversation' during a 'roundtable' and that meeting with veterans is one of the most important parts of his job.

"I am always willing to hear from veterans face-to-face on any issue," the release said.

Evan Solomon, host of CBC's Power & Politics, said the confrontation will be a public relations problem for a Conservative government that has built its brand on veterans and the military.

"That press conference could be the beginning of a much more significant debate about how vets have been treated," he said.

Volunteer warns of delays

Alban LeClair said during an earlier news conference Tuesday that he works with veterans in Prince Edward Island as a Royal Canadian Legion service volunteer...

"This government keeps saying it's enhancing services for veterans. It says these closures will not affect services. Well, I can tell you now, that before they started shutting down Charlottetown district office, a veteran could get a home visit within a couple of days. Now it takes up to six weeks to contact the veteran. And six weeks is a long time for a 93-year-old veteran, and even young veterans suffering with PTSD," he said, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder.

One veteran teared up as he described what friends were going through as they faced the office closures.

Offices are set to close in:

Corner Brook, N.L.
Sydney, N.S.
Thunder Bay, Ont.
Windsor, Ont.
Brandon, Man.
Kelowna, B.C.
Meeting with Fantino

. . . .

The government said services will still be available online.

But the website isn't easy to navigate, said Bruce Moncur, a 29-year-old who served in Afghanistan.

Moncur said he banks and does other transactions online, but it took him a whole afternoon to figure out the Veterans Affairs site.

Moncur described starting an account on the site, then waiting a day for it to be activated, and waiting another week to get the paperwork he requested.

"Something that I could have gone to the office for, that would have taken 10 minutes to get, ended up taking me a week. And that's indicative too of what's happening with these closures is that the service is going to [be] even slower. I never thought it would be possible, but it is," he said.

For those who still want to meet with a case worker, the closures could mean travelling for hours to get to the nearest office.

surveillance at the border: outrage fades as we accept the new normal?

The surveillance state continues to grow; news of its magnitude continues to trickle out. Some people shrug, claiming only criminals and terrorists need be concerned, but in these extreme conditions, that attitude looks increasingly ridiculous - or government-sponsored. The rest of us shudder and shake our heads... but what more?

The Canada-US border has become another instrument of the surveillance state. For decades, people have claimed that border agencies had access to all our personal information, including tax and credit status. In the past, that was a myth. Now, what was once paranoid rumour appears to be true.

We, the surveilled, are not consulted on these changes. The changes are not open to public debate. Neither we nor our elected representatives have an opportunity to vote for or against them. They are being instituted by fiat. Those magical words - "national security" - make everything possible.

Some stories.

September 2011 (note date): Canadians with mental illnesses denied U.S. entry, Data entered into national police database accessible to American authorities: WikiLeaks

June 2012: "The United States will be allowed to share information about Canadians with other countries under a sweeping border deal.".

November 2013: Disabled woman denied entry to US based on medical records: The issue is not the US's border policies. The important piece of the story is how the US border had access to a Canadian's health records.

November 2013: Accusations that private health details of Canadians being shared with U.S. border agents sparks probe: NDP provincial health critic France Gelinas has been contacted by three Ontarians who have been denied entry to the US based on their personal health history.
Gelinas said another person she spoke to told her that they had been turned away at the border over a physical ailment that had nothing to do with mental health.

She wouldn’t provide any details to protect the person’s privacy, but Gelinas said she was told that the U.S. agent in that case also mentioned a fairly recent, specific medical episode that happened in an Ontario hospital.

Gelinas said at first she tried to find some explanation for why U.S. authorities might have the information, such as police records. She asked many questions, but nothing seemed to explain how the Department of Homeland Security got the information.

“The amount of their personal information that is spit back at them is astonishing,” she said.

“I have no idea how this could happen, but it did. I believe those people. They have given me physical, tangible proof that this happened.”

A person’s medical history must remain confidential, she said. To hear that specific details of a person’s medical history is being shared with a foreign government is “extremely alarming.”
December 2013: Toronto woman with bipolar disorder refused entry into U.S. for being a ‘flight risk’. This occured about a year earlier. The woman came forward after reading the highly-publicized story in November.

January 2014:
Canadian border officials plan to share personal information obtained under a new Canada-U.S. border data exchange program with other federal departments, the Star has learned.

The program, in which Ottawa and Washington will start sharing their citizens’ travel and biographic data this summer, means anyone from Canada travelling to or from the United States by land can have his or her information passed on to federal departments.

The Canada Border Services Agency confirmed the new practice and said data would be passed on only in accordance with stringent rules.
January 2014: If you need extra evidence of how these practices are not for our own safety:
Canada’s border agency misled the public on its highly touted “most wanted” list by inaccurately portraying some people as war criminals, says Canada’s Privacy Commissioner.

The finding came more than two years after refugee advocates complained that border officials violated the individuals’ privacy rights by posting their mug shots and personal information, including date of birth, on the Internet and social media.

Although the federal privacy watchdog said Canada Border Services Agency’s information disclosure was justified in its attempt to locate those wanted for removal from Canada, it chided officials for the loose use of the term “war criminals” to describe the people on the list. . . . .

Toronto immigration lawyer Angus Grant, who represented the complainant, said the commissioner’s finding vindicated what refugees’ advocates had said all along.

“The list was created for political purposes,” said Grant, calling the most-wanted list the Conservative government’s attempt to “vilify refugees on its own assertion that they were war criminals.”
It's not only health records, and it's not only entry to the US that's at issue.

November 2013, from DeSmog Blog: The Day I Found Out the Canadian Government Was Spying on Me: CSIS and RCMP spying on activists, and sharing that information in classified meetings with - you guessed it - Enbridge. Talk about the petrostate!

October 2013, from The Guardian: Canadian spies met with energy firms, documents reveal:
Government agency that allegedly spied on Brazil had secret meetings with energy companies.

* * * *

We must try to keep these stories alive. Government spying should be an election issue.

Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Open Media privacy petition


thank you, pete seeger. how could we ever thank you enough?

Pete Seeger, 1919-2014
Musician, Activist, Environmentalist. Socialist.


help me buy a tablet

I think I'm finally up for buying a tablet.

I have a little Lenovo IdeaPad netbook that I bought for school. I thought if it made it through four years of grad school, I'd consider it a good buy. It did, and it was. By non-tablet standards, it's light and portable, and I love the keyboard, which is 90% of full-sized.

I never wanted a tablet before. I always saw them as toys. Sleek, good-looking, fun, but non-essential, more for play than work, and lacking the crucial component: the keyboard.

Now my netbook is getting cranky, and nearing the end of its (stupidly short) lifespan. Since I originally chose the netbook for its lightness and portability, a tablet seems like the natural progression: lighter and more portable. I'm not hugely into eBooks, but it's nice to have the option. And I am clearly being seduced by the "this is where things are going" feeling. Getting a new netbook feels a bit antiquated.

The drawback is the keyboard issue. I really don't like typing on those flat, virtual keyboards. I've never had any problem typing on small keyboards, including the one on my antiquated BlackBerry, but the onscreen keyboards are awful. (As I've noted before, I dislike touch-screen technology altogether. I wish it would go away.) Several friends who use iPads use the little USB keyboards for heavy note-taking, but obviously it would be best to adapt.

I won't buy an iPad - not even considering it - so I imagine I'll get a Samsung Galaxy of some kind. There are many models and I haven't done any research yet. I'll be using a Galaxy in programming at the library, so I'll have a chance to fiddle around before buying anything. Also, I definitely do not want a so-called phablet, or an over-sized phone.

So, are you using a non-iPad tablet? How do you like it? Is there one you have your eye on?


How To Get the Right Tablet the First Time (WikiHow)

Tablet Guide for Newbies (ZDNet)

Tablet Buying Guide Round-Up (CNet)

what i'm reading: four youth books and some kind-of spoilers

Flight is a thought-provoking short novel by one of my favourite youth writers, Sherman Alexie.

The main character in Flight, a Native American boy who goes by the derisive nickname Zits, is a troubled soul with a long history of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. He seems to be on the brink of a major transition, either going off the deep end or beginning the long climb back.

I don't know how to write about this book without spoiling it. So if you're like me, and you don't like to know anything about a book before you begin, and you like a book to reveal itself exactly as the author intended, skip to the next book right now.

Zits finds himself inexplicably inhabiting the bodies and minds of different people in the history of his family and his people. He doesn't choose this, and he has no control of it, but Zits finds himself quite literally walking in the shoes of his fellow man.

The boy's journey into other people's lives takes him to some watershed moments. He travels to Little Bighorn, where an encampment of Indians are waiting for General Custer to make that last stand. He inhabits the body of an FBI agent who kills radical Indians. Zits becomes the father he never knew, being abused and belittled by his own father. And so on.

For me, this book was all about empathy, that crucial and too-often missing process, the one that leads to compassion. But for the author, I think, the book is a vision of revenge, an endless cycle of hurt for hurt. I had a problem with the simplistic politics that views an Indian raid on a settler camp, an invasion of another country by the United States, and a terrorist attack on the United States, all as expressions of revenge. But as an exercise in empathy, the book works for me.

Besides, I believe I also discovered that Sherman Alexie supports war resisters. From the discussion questions in the back of the book:
What is the reward of a kind heart in Small Saint? What war stories like this can you remember? Refusal to commit violence is punished as treason. Are we hearing analogous stories about members of the US military who go AWOL or refuse to serve?

* * * *

Lois Lowry's The Giver is another book that is difficult not to spoil. The book takes place in a seemingly utopian future, the dark side of which is revealed a bit at a time.

Jonas lives in a world without war, without hunger, without conflict. It is also a world without individual freedom or choice of any kind, a world without art or music - without hate, but also without love. Communities have adopted The Sameness, and this genetically modified future has brought them some obvious gifts and many hidden evils.

There are some simple and clear messages in The Giver. Without pain, we cannot truly appreciate pleasure. In order to experience love, we will always know loss, because we are mortal. In order to live fully, to be fully human, we need the entire range of human experience. But there are some complex and contradictory messages as well.

As I read this book, I found myself considering the political implications, my mind flip-flopping back and forth from agreement to disagreement. Is this an anti-government message? Is it anti-fascist, or perhaps anti-socialist? Is Lowry implying that a society without hunger and want must be a society without choice? Is she saying that if we were to abolish war, we would also surrender the joys of music and art? That if a society seeks to conquer evils such as child abuse and random violence, it must also give up vitality and joy? And if that's true, should we give up on trying to better human society? And so on.

It was very thought-provoking! Heavy themes, but a quick and easy read. Well done, but I'm not eager to see the upcoming movie.

* * * *

Since I wrote about The Hunger Games and briefly about Catching Fire, I felt I should complete the cycle and mention that I did read Mockingjay, the final book in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games series. Unlike most of the young readers I've spoken to, I liked it very much.

Mockingjay is a book about the harsh reality of war; one could even call it an anti-war book. It offers poverty, oppression, starvation, and crippling mental illness as the guaranteed outcomes of war, contrasted with the duplicity, hypocrisy, and utter selfishness of those who plan and profit by those wars.

This book continues to explore the limits of loyalty, especially in the face of moral ambiguity, which, we discover, is the only kind of morality on offer. All The Hunger Games books deal with questions of reality - what is real, what is fiction - but Mockingjay takes these issues much further, always asking, "Real or not real?"

I liked that the book gives us hope. But I wanted to trust and love the revolution. I wanted Katniss to be able to trust and love the revolution, too.

* * * *

Alexie is a Native American, and his work always explores issues of growing up Indian in 21st Century North America. But his work is also about growing up, and fitting in, and finding your place in the world. It is specific, about Indians. And it's universal, about all of us.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which won the National Book Award in 2007, is a hilarious and heartbreaking look inside the world of one teenage boy. He must navigate the constant conflict between being true to himself and trying to reach his own potential, and his loyalty to his group. This would be a lot easier if his group wasn't usually drinking themselves to death and wasting their entire lives, and if being true to himself didn't mean being the only Indian and the only poor kid in a school for rich white kids.

There are who-knows-how-many books out there told in breezy conversational, diary style. To me, most sound stilted and inauthentic. This was Alexie's first young-adult novel - and he absolutely nailed it.

If you are a fan of Roddy Doyle, as I am, Absolutely True Adventures may remind you of his Barrytown books. Alexie has that same uncanny ability to tackle extremely serious subjects in a humourous way.

Added incentive to read this book: it is always on the most-challenged list and has been banned from many school libraries.


all working people must mobilize against right-to-work laws. but will we?

It's no secret that Tim Hudak, who wants to be Ontario's next premier, wants to break every union in the province. So-called right-to-work legislation - the name has been a persistent and successful piece of propaganda, used everywhere without quotes - is at the centre of Hudak's campaign agenda.

Will Ontario become a "right-to-work" province? Will Hudak become the new premier and succeed in dismantling Ontario's unions?

It's a prospect that frightens me deeply.

If every unionized worker in Ontario would join the fight against right-to-work, we'd win.

And if every worker who benefits from the presence of union workplaces joined the fight, we'd win for sure, because that would be all workers. People who benefit from unions far outnumber the people whose own economic interests cause them to oppose unions. That is, working people far outnumber the ruling class.

Yet... that's not what we see.

So many union members feel let down - worse than let down, they feel fucked over - by union leadership that imagines its role is to keep businesses functioning smoothly - conciliatory leadership that readily agrees to concessions and clawbacks and lower wages - that the members honestly can't say what their union membership means, or what their dues buy them.

Those are the cynical, and they've earned their cynicism, thanks to so-called union leaders who haven't represented their interests.

Other members would be perfectly happy to let others pay dues while they reap the rewards of collective bargaining agreements. They'd think they were very clever, getting a good deal, and look down on their dues-paying co-workers as suckers. Those are the freeloaders.

On the nonunion side, so many working people don't understand that they benefit from the presence of unions every day of their lives, as unions have raised workplace standards, salaries, and standards of living for all working people - not just historically, but right now. We've all seen the posters and slogans, like the button pictured here. But so many people imagine those gains are history. They imagine that child-labour and minimum-wage laws are permanent. What have unions done for you lately?

Here's an example of what they do. I am employed by the City of Mississauga. Only a small portion of City of Mississauga employees are unionized - library workers, transit workers, and a few others. When it's salary increase time, historically, the City has given its nonunion workers a slightly larger increase than their unionized workers. They want to keep the nonunion workers happy, so they don't get any ideas about forming a union! (By the way, they're not happy. Their working conditions are not good.) That is how unions help all working people: by raising standards.

But many or most people don't see that. Those are the ignorant.

Finally, there are the nonunion workers who believe anti-union propaganda, whose jealousy, greed, hatred, and general discontent cause them to align themselves with the ruling class, against their own interests. These are the people who post anti-union comments on news stories, saying things like, "It's time to end menial jobs earning CEO salaries!". Really. People say this.

Those are the diehard right-wingers. There's no talking to them.

Between the cynical, the freeloaders, the ignorant, and the right-wingers, I am frightened for the future of Ontario workers.

But there is some hope.

Tim Hudak hasn't won anything yet. Do Ontarians really want the return of Mike Harris?

Unions are mobilizing their memberships for fightbacks.

This is a bargaining year for many public-sector unions, and that's the time when membership is most active.

Hudak's plan could backfire.

I keep thinking of what Chris Hedges said, when he was in Toronto last September. I quote my earlier post.
While talking about the differences between Canada and the US, and the relative strength of organized labour in each country, Hedges asked, "Do you have 'right-to-work' laws here yet?" The audience answered that we do not. And Hedges replied: "The minute Harper passes those laws, if you guys don't have a massive general strike, you're finished." He said, "You still have enough organized labour in Canada to mount a resistance."

When asked about the general strike during the Q&A, Hedges said that any and all civil disobedience is important. He mentioned the organizing fast-food workers as an important piece of resistance. "Anything that messes them up is good," he said. "Anything that interrupts the mechanisms of how they make money."

Again invoking the image of a terrified Nixon, Hedges wondered, what would happen if the French government announced that university tuition was now $50,000 per year? We don't have to look all the way to France for the answer: look at Quebec.
For the details on what's wrong with Hudak's plan, I'll re-post these two excellent letters in the Toronto Star.
So Tim Hudak is going to save Ontario. He is going to freeze the public service. Perhaps he didn’t notice that freezing the public service wages over the past five years to give tax breaks to corporations did not create jobs. Instead we lost 45,000 jobs last month. What did Kellogg’s and Heinz do with their tax windfall? Those two stalwarts of Ontario called the moving trucks.

He is going to create one million jobs. That would be 400,000 more than we need, or will the unemployed need two jobs to make a living at those created? His plan to reduce public sector jobs and replace them with low-paid private sector jobs will not help the economy and training for skilled trades won’t produce workers for these former government jobs.

Maybe by driving down the standard of living Mr. Hudak believes that he can lure back some of the manufacturing jobs other Tory governments helped leave Ontario. Surely cutting the green energy subsidies won’t create but will eliminate skilled jobs. Training skilled workers is a great idea if there are jobs for them to go to after the training.

Hudak has no plan for reducing energy costs even though he cites this as a reason for job losses. Too many friends at OPG?

He is from an era where cutting taxes was the mantra to create jobs. Employers who get tax cuts keep the money. They rarely invest in job creation without government welfare assistance. Families that get tax relief need the money to meet rising energy and fuel costs. Tax cuts will not now, nor have they ever, created jobs. Ideas from the 20th century that didn’t work then definitely won’t work now. Ontario has a business friendly tax structure and we are still bleeding jobs.

Do we need recycled Mike Harris ideas? I think not. Hudak’s plan is to continue the Conservative ideology of lowering the standard of living for working Ontarians and giving more to the 1 per cent will not save Ontario. We need to concentrate on the economy with 21st century solutions that will create sustainable jobs that pay above the poverty line.

Bob File, Hamilton

I am wondering what exactly Ontario Tory leader Tim Hudak is referring to when he states, as part of his five-point plan for improving Ontario’s economy, that he will “end the bureaucratic runaround that inhibits job creation.”

Is he talking about lifting environmental restrictions on businesses and resource development? Is he talking about changing laws around workplace safety? Is he talking about changing laws relating to the use of part-time and temporary workers — so called “precarious employees” — who already have to scrabble to make ends meet without the benefit of job security, benefits and an employer provided pension?

Laws that favour business owners and resource developers over Ontario workers and citizens line the pockets of the rich while eroding quality of life for average Ontarians.

Brian O’Sullivan, Stouffville


watch how much this community loves its library

15,000 people in Latvia form a human chain to transfer books from their old, falling-apart library to their beautiful new home.


james frey: author, liar, sweatshop boss

Today I break one of my own rules, and write about a book I didn't enjoy. Not only that, but I trash the author, too. But perhaps author is the wrong word. Maybe I should call him the factory boss.

I know something about how difficult it is to write a book, and I feel solidarity with all writers. When it comes to blogging about books, I usually employ the old saw, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it". So when I didn't like I Am Number Four, I wasn't going to write about it. Until I discovered what it really is.

I Am Number Four is a youth novel, the first in the "Lorien Legacy" series, written under the obvious pseudonym "Pittacus Lore". The writing is stiff and inauthentic, the pacing plodding, the characterization and suspense nonexistent.

I was surprised at the poor quality of the book, and went online to read more about it. A quick search revealed that the book and the series are the product of author James Frey's company Full Fathom Five, a kind of sweatshop for hungry writers.

Frey, you may recall, is the writer whose book A Million Little Pieces, marketed as a memoir, was exposed as fiction. There was a confrontation on "Oprah," there were lawsuits, a whole long drama. And while I'm not interested in drama, I am interested in truth. Frey, who seems to imagine himself a literary bad-boy, continues to claim there's no difference between fiction and nonfiction. I have a huge problem with this, and so should you. If you don't, try reading more Orwell.

But that's not my biggest problem with Frey.

When I Googled I Am Number Four, I quickly found a long New York Magazine article from 2010 called "James Frey’s Fiction Factory". The article detailed how James Frey created a media company, "hired" (but didn't pay) writers, and set about to create the Next Big Thing in youth media. The next Twilight, the next Hunger Games, the next Harry Potter.

Each of those successful series, however, is the product of someone's creative mind. You may not like them all, or you may dislike the idea of them, but each was born from one writer's creativity. Their outsized successes may have everything to do with money and marketing, but the creation itself, what millions of readers flock to, are what happened when Stephenie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, and J. K. Rowling put pen to paper or pixel to screen. Given its origin, it's not surprising that I Am Number Four is so bad. Art is not created by committee.

But that's still not my biggest problem with Frey.

The subhead of the New York Magazine story tells us, "The controversial author is hiring young writers to join him in a new publishing company. The goal is to produce the next Twilight. The contracts are brutal." And if you read to page five of an 11-page story, you'll find out what that means.
This is the essence of the terms being offered by Frey’s company Full Fathom Five: In exchange for delivering a finished book within a set number of months, the writer would receive $250 (some contracts allowed for another $250 upon completion), along with a percentage of all revenue generated by the project, including television, film, and merchandise rights — 30 percent if the idea was originally Frey’s, 40 percent if it was originally the writer’s. The writer would be financially responsible for any legal action brought against the book but would not own its copyright. Full Fathom Five could use the writer’s name or a pseudonym without his or her permission, even if the writer was no longer involved with the series, and the company could substitute the writer’s full name for a pseudonym at any point in the future. The writer was forbidden from signing contracts that would “conflict” with the project; what that might be wasn’t specified. The writer would not have approval over his or her publicity, pictures, or biographical materials. There was a $50,000 penalty if the writer publicly admitted to working with Full Fathom Five without permission.
Here, I typed a whole bunch of things in bold and italics, but lucky for you, I deleted them all. That paragraph speaks for itself.

The writer of the magazine story consulted with a publishing lawyer.
He said he had never seen a contract like this in his sixteen years of negotiation. “It’s an agreement that says, ‘You’re going to write for me. I’m going to own it. I may or may not give you credit. If there is more than one book in the series, you are on the hook to write those too, for the exact same terms, but I don’t have to use you. In exchange for this, I’m going to pay you 40 percent of some amount you can’t verify—there’s no audit provision—and after the deduction of a whole bunch of expenses.” He described it as a Hollywood-style work-for-hire contract grafted onto the publishing industry—“although Hollywood writers in a work-for-hire contract are usually paid more than $250.”
Desperation drives us to do many things. But it should never drive a writer to sign a contract like this.

* * * *

One of the many variables that fueled my career change was the deteriorating state of the magazine writing business. Even in the 1990s, magazine pieces were already getting shorter and shorter, and fewer venues were publishing long pieces. Pay rates had been stagnant for 20 years. Publishers, now owned by giant media conglomerates, started to issue all-rights, work-for-hire contracts.

Historically, a typical magazine contract was about licensing. A writer would license the use of a work, retaining ownership and being paid for each use. For example, the article would run in a magazine; that was one use. It ran in that magazine's European version, translated into French; that was another use. It ran in an anthology; still another use.

Writers retained the rights to their work, so with some judicious editing, they could sell more pieces on the same topic to different magazine with different audiences. By squeezing multiple articles out of one set of research or interviews, writers could earn a living.

In a work-for-hire contract, a publisher pays one fee, and owns everything, forever. They can use and re-use the story. They can re-write and re-package it. They can do whatever they want, because it's theirs. As more publishers starting adopting work-for-hire contracts, it became increasingly difficult for writers to earn a living from their own craft.

And that was before the internet.

After the advent of the internet, pay rates that had stagnated were cut in half, then in half again. There are a huge proliferation of writing venues, but almost no paying markets. Young people writing for About.com or Suite101 for pennies per 1,000 clicks, earning one dollar per article per month, do not believe me - I mean that literally, they think I am lying - when I say I have earned $1.50 per word. And that was only because I hadn't broken into the $3.00 per word category.

In the 1990s, the National Writers Union was organizing for a $1.00/word minimum. That had been the going rate for 20-25 years. By 2005, 50 cents per word was a lot. A few years ago, Allan was offered $175 for 1,500 words, from a glossy magazine with big-name national advertising. Huffington Post was bought by AOL for more than $300 million, but still doesn't pay its writers. At all.

And then there's James Frey, draining a little more water out of the pool.


things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #12

I'm enjoying my new position so much! Things are going really well so far. I'm preparing for teen book club, researching display ideas, and planning some (I hope) interesting programs. I'll write about those as they happen.

So far I'm feeling well, too. I'm still adjusting to full-time work, but I'm not collapsing from it, either. Readers, you were right. Doing work that you love makes a huge difference. So does a more humane work environment. In the library, no one expects everything done yesterday, everyone understands the concept of a learning curve, and most people truly understand teamwork and support each other. And because I belong to a union (and, management would say, because the City of Mississauga is a good employer), I have a full hour dinner or lunch break, good ergonomics, and other supports. This is a tad different than working as support staff in a corporate law firm!

Today's "things I heard..." highlights two features of our library system that I love - features that illustrate the importance of libraries to the community.

Next week, secondary school students begin exam week, and we expect to see a huge influx of students needing a place to study. The library opens extra rooms to accommodate them, and offers other little supports, such as designated areas where people can eat, extra space for group study, and a "stressbuster" room so students can get away from their books and computers to refocus.

Yesterday I attended a little prep session for library staff on our exam-week policies, and how we can support students who need us. Along with a review of our policies, our manager reminded us: be kind. Be understanding.

The other program I'm seeing up-close for the first time is our homebound library service for people unable to come to the library themselves. This can be a long-term arrangement for a senior or person with disabilities, or a short-term arrangement for a customer recuperating from an illness. (Of course, plenty of people with disabilities come to the library, which is fully accessible. This service recognizes that not everyone can.)

When I'm at my desk, I overhear two staff members from my department on the phone with homebound customers. They learn how customers felt about their last delivery - which books they enjoyed, what they want more or less of - and make notes for their next delivery. Then they select four weeks' worth of materials - books, music, movies, magazines - for each customer, and that shipment is delivered to their door, sans due dates or fines.

These are the kinds of things that make me proud to be part of the larger library community.


let them stay week day 5: social media thursday

Today in Let Them Stay Week 2014 is Social Media Thursday!

- Change your Facebook picture to the picture above to show support for US war resisters in Canada. You can also find the photo on our website, resisters.ca.

- Invite your friends to change their picture, too.

- Tweet your support for war resisters, using #LetThemStay.

- Follow @WarResisters and retweet our messages throughout the day.


let them stay week day 4: write a paper letter to chris alexander

Today we go old school. Take out a pen, or turn on your printer, and send some paper mail to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander. Tell him to stop deporting US war resisters in Canada, and to enact a provision to let them stay. Tell him why.

Find an envelope, and send your letter to:
The Honourable Chris Alexander
House of Commons
Justice Building – 306
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

If you live in Canada, you don't even need a stamp.


let them stay week day 3: email or call minister chris alexander

Today is a very important day in Let Them Stay Week 2014. Today we flood some inboxes!

If you support US war resisters in Canada, please take a moment to call or email the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander. Ask him to ensure that no more US war resisters are forced out of Canada for their opposition to an illegal and immoral war, and to enact a provision to let them stay in Canada.

You can send an email from this Take Action page, or write your own message and email it to: Minister@cic.gc.ca and chris.alexander@parl.gc.ca. Please copy the opposition leaders and critics: lysane.blanchette-lamothe@parl.gc.ca, mccallum.j@parl.gc.ca, mulcair.t@parl.gc.ca, trudeau.j@parl.gc.ca, elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca.

You can also phone Minister Alexander at 613-954-1064.

"in the midst of madness, one soldier has refused to participate": let them stay week, revolutionary thought of the day, and other coincidences

Don't you love it when everything comes together? It's Let Them Stay Week 2014, I'm thinking about the US war resisters in Canada, and about war resistance in general. And I'm reading a terrific youth novel, Flight, by Sherman Alexie, both fast-paced and rich with insight and meaning. And I come upon this passage. And if this doesn't qualify as a Revolutionary Thought of the Day, I don't know what does.
Without stopping, the white soldier reaches down and picks up Bow Boy. Cradles the child in one arm. And the white soldier keeps running. He's running towards the faraway hills. Toward those faraway trees. Toward cover. Toward safety. Carrying an Indian child, a white soldier is running with Indians.

I can't believe it. It can't be true. But it is true.

That white soldier, a small saint, is trying to save Bow Boy.

I wonder if the other escaping Indians see this. I wonder if it gives them hope. I wonder if this act of love makes it easier for them to face death.

In the midst of all this madness and murder, one soldier has refused to participate.

Sherman Alexie, Flight (2007)


what i'm reading: just kids by patti smith

Just Kids is a memoir by the artist and musician Patti Smith, about her life and relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe. The book is a memoir of both Smith's and Mapplethorpe's coming of age as artists, and of the path of their relationships, both with each other and with other people who were formative in their young lives. Just Kids is also a memoir of New York City in the 1970s, especially of certain slices of the art and music scenes.

Although Smith met and hung out with many famous musicians, artists, and writers during the time she writes about, Just Kids doesn't have a gossipy, name-dropping feel. Smith isn't saying, "Look at all the famous people I've known"; she shares interesting interactions she's had with noteworthy people. For example, when Smith takes 55 cents to the Horn & Hardart automat with a craving for a cheese-and-lettuce sandwich, only to find the price has gone up, the person who offers her the missing dime is the poet Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg, who thought Smith was a boy that he might chat up, asks Smith if she's male or female. We see the scene with sweetness and warmth. When Ginsberg asks, "What will you say about how we met?" Smith answers, "That I was hungry and you fed me."

That is typical of Just Kids. Smith writes with warmth, respect, and love for almost everyone. Even if a relationship went awry or ended badly, Smith finds the positive, not in a strained, Pollyanna-ish way, but out of a genuine appreciation for the many experiences that helped her learn and grow. Smith's voice is modest, sober, respectful, and often innocent, almost naive. The book is intimate, but not explicit, focusing on love rather than sex.

Through most of the book, Smith is not a rock musician, and has no dreams of becoming one. She makes visual art, writes poetry, and doesn't even think about performing. Mapplethorpe creates jewelry and art installations. The man who would become a world-famous photographer cuts photos from magazines and re-purposes them in his own art. Together, Smith and Mapplethorpe support each other as each discovers their true artistic path. This is the story of a joined voyage of self-discovery; as Smith puts it, they were artist and muse, with both playing both roles.

Reading Just Kids, you would never know that Smith was a bold, brash, hyperkenetic rocker, that she was compared to a young Mick Jagger for her stage presence and frenetic energy. For most of the book, Smith is shy and socially awkward; she describes herself as a "skinny wallflower". She frequently mentions The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan as her two primary rock influences, along with the poet Arthur Rimbaud and a host of other artists, such as Freda Kahlo and Edith Piaf. Early on, Smith mentions seeing The Doors' Jim Morrison perform, and thinking, "I could do that." Indeed, she could, and she did. Morrison and Smith, although they never met, are forever linked as the performers who brought spoken-word poetry to hard-edged rock-and-roll.

The stories from Smith's early life are poignant and illuminating. Working in a New Jersey factory, pregnant at 19 years old and surrendering the child to adoption, Smith hungered for a fresh start. She packed her few belongings in a plaid suitcase and boarded a bus for New York City, planning to stay with some friends who had moved to Brooklyn. But the friends had moved, and Smith was all alone. She slept in doorways and in Washington Square Park, scrounging for change, and hungry all the time. She searched for work that would sustain and not degrade her, eventually finding a job in Brentano's, a famous New York bookstore. She learned how to scour New York's many used bookstores for treasures that she could sell to private collectors for a small profit that would pay for food or rent.

Smith and Mapplethorpe meet by happenstance, and become the most important people in each other's lives. They live at the legendary Chelsea Hotel in a tiny room with their art, their dreams, and their hungers, and very little money.

Mapplethorpe was later and famously gay, and some readers might hope for some salacious details of Smith and Mapplethorpe's relationship; they'll be disappointed. There's no explicit sex. Smith refers to "romantic involvements" only obliquely, and keeps her most private life private. She refers to the "dual nature" of Mapplethorpe's sexuality and, later, to the S&M imagery in his work that she accepted but didn't understand.

In an afterward, Smith writes that Mapplethorpe asked her to write their story. She compares the pair to Hansel and Gretel, venturing into the dark and scary woods together, with "temptations and witches and demons we never dreamed of" and "splendor we only partially imagined".

Smith's writing is sometimes clear and precise, sometimes poetic, sometimes a bit mystical. She has the songwriter's knack for unusual phrases, describing someone with "a cowboy mouth" or saying, "He had that human saxophone thing" (whatever that means!).

I was a teen when punk was born, and saw Smith perform several times. I had a poster of the famous cover of Horses on my wall wherever I lived; I was fascinated with Smith, even idolized her for a time. I didn't follow her career as a poet or a visual artist, but she remained an iconic figure to me, especially in her deep connection to New York City, the New York City of my youth. So naturally, Just Kids was very compelling to me. Would this book be interesting to someone who doesn't already know Smith, who isn't familiar with the New York City art scene? Although I can't say for sure, I doubt it. In fact, for readers who aren't familiar with some of the references - if you don't know what the Chelsea Hotel or CBGB is, or who Sam Shepherd is - it might not even make sense.

This is not a book about Patti Smith, rock musician. In a 288-page book, Smith doesn't meet Lenny Kaye, the man who would become her rock partner, until page 179.  (Kaye was working in a record store on Bleecker Street. That's what I mean: if that doesn't strike you as a romantic and beautiful image, this book may not be for you.) When Patti Smith and Fred "Sonic" Smith leave New York City to launch their rock career, the book ends. It is all innocence and awakening and self-discovery, without the harsh realities of compromise and commerce and all that follows.

Smith does give you a glimpse into the birth of the punk movement, in this beautiful passage.
We imagined ourselves as the Sons of Liberty with a mission to preserve, protect, and project the revolutionary spirit of rock and roll. We feared that the music that had given us sustenance was in danger of spiritual starvation. We feared it losing its sense of purpose, we feared it falling into fattened hands, we feared it floundering in a mire of spectacle, finance, and vapid technical complexity. We would call forth in our minds the image of Paul Revere, riding through the American night, petitioning the people to wake up, to take up arms. We too would take up arms, the arms of our generation, the electric guitar and the microphone.
Just Kids has something in common with that greatest of personal essays, the one I seem destined to blog about every few years, Joan Didion's "Goodbye To All That". (Thank you to Julia Allison for putting the essay online, a much better link than I've used previously.) One passage in particular reminded me of the famous line that breaks my heart: "Was anyone ever so young?". Smith writes:
Where does it all lead? What will become of us? These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed.

It leads to each other. We become ourselves.
Just Kids is a quintessential New York story, and there's a subtext that, as a former New Yorker, I find inexpressibly sad. Throughout New York's history, there have always been pockets of cheap housing which enabled artists to live cheaply and focus on their work. The city was a magnet for young artists of all stripes; that was part of what gave New York its energy and edge. Artists would move into a low-income, dangerous neighbourhood, taking advantage of low rents, and they'd revitalize it. Then the neighbourhood would gentrify, eventually becoming too expensive for the people who had put it on the map. Artists would be pushed out, and another part of town would become an art mecca, and the cycle would begin again.

But the cycle sped up. Instead of taking several generations, it began to take only a matter of years. Then it sped up even more, neighbourhoods going almost directly from unsafe to pricey with barely an art scene in between. At the same time, fewer and fewer affordable neighbourhoods remained. Eventually the profit-seeking machine that is New York City cut its own throat. Although pockets of art and music scenes survive, they are tiny shadows of their thriving ancestors. David Byrne writes about it here. Smith and Mapplethorpe's story couldn't happen in today's New York. They would need a much higher income to survive, and that changes the entire equation.

There are some wonderful stories in Just Kids, about Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and Smith's pilgrimage to Paris in search of the ghost of Rimbaud, and how Sam Shepherd bought Patti Smith her first guitar, and taught her the secret of improvisation. I'll end this post with one especially illuminating story. Smith has accompanied Mapplethorpe to the club Max's Kansas City many times, but she is not comfortable socially, and no one pays much attention to her. Someone makes a snide remark about Smith's hair, which she always wore long, straight, and parted in the middle, like a folk singer. Although Smith tries to shake it off, and although she feels silly for caring, the comment stings. In frustration, she looks at photos of The Rolling Stones and takes a scissors to her locks, trying to cut her hair like Keith Richards'. She shows up at Max's sporting her new haircut, and suddenly, Smith is the talk of the club. Everyone wants to hang out with her. Everyone wants to see her work. Everyone suddenly pays attention. Because she cut her hair. The haircut was not Smith's "big break," but it showed her a lot about the way things work.

* * * * *

Note: My nonfiction book reviews from wmtc will now be cross-posted at this Nonfiction Book Club blog, written by four Mississauga Library System staff members. I'm scouring the wmtc archives for reviews of nonfiction books that are in the Mississauga Library catalogue... in case you want to catch up.

let them stay week day 2: letter to the editor

Let Them Stay Week 2014 kicked off yesterday with a flutter on social media. Today we get underway in earnest by writing letters to the editors of local newspapers.

Three ideas for letters are here on the War Resisters Support Campaign website.

An excellent list of email address, along with some tips for writing effective letters, is here, thanks to the good folks fighting for our public health care system.

Your letter might reference one of three events: the 10th anniversary of the first Iraq War resister to arrive in Canada, the recent release from prison of war resister Kimberly Rivera (who served 10 months in prison after the Harper Government forced the Rivera family out of Canada), or the two motions passed in Parliament calling on the government to Let Them Stay. Here are some ideas. Happy writing!


january 12-19: let them stay week 2014: stop the deportations!

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the arrival in Canada of Jeremy Hinzman, the first US Iraq War resister to seek asylum here after refusing to participate in an illegal and immoral war. Yet 10 years on, Jeremy and his family, and many other U.S. war resisters, are still living in limbo – not certain if they will be forced to return to the US, where they face harsh punishment for their courageous decision.

From January 12 to 19, join Canadians across the country in Let Them Stay Week 2014, to send a message that U.S. war resisters are welcome in Canada, and that the Canadian government must stop the deportations and enact a provision to let them stay.

Here are some of the ways you can participate, to ensure that our message comes through each day of Let Them Stay Week.

Sunday, January 12
Tweet or post your support for U.S. war resisters on Facebook!

Monday, January 13
Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. For ideas, see sample letters here.

Tuesday, January 14
Call or email the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander. and ask him to ensure that no more US war resisters are forced out of Canada for their opposition to an illegal and immoral war, and to enact a provision to let them stay in Canada.

You can send an email from our Take Action page, or write your own message. Email it to Minister@cic.gc.ca and chris.alexander@parl.gc.ca. Please copy the opposition leaders and critics: lysane.blanchette-lamothe@parl.gc.ca, mccallum.j@parl.gc.ca, mulcair.t@parl.gc.ca, trudeau.j@parl.gc.ca, elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca.

You can also phone Minister Alexander at 613.954.1064.

Wednesday, January 15
Write a letter to the Minister and to your MP in support of US war resisters.
Send your letter to: Hon. Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

In Toronto, join a letter-writing event at 7 p.m. at the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street (near College and Beverly). The evening will feature a preview of the upcoming film Peace Has No Borders and updates from war resisters Joshua Key and Dean Walcott.

Thursday, January 16
Social media day: change your Facebook status to the graphic on this page and tweet a link to resisters.ca #LetThemStay.

Friday, January 17
MP and Community Outreach Day. Meet with your MP, or call their office to request a meeting.
For a lobbying guide to help organize your visit to your MP, email wrsctoronto@gmail.com.
Circulate this petition among your friends and family, at work or at school.

Saturday, January 18
Building Sanctuary: a panel discussion with Jessica Squires and Alyssa Manning, 5–7 p.m. EST, Ryerson University. Part of the Canadian Peace Alliance convention.

Jessica Squires is the author of Building Sanctuary: The Movement to Support Vietnam War Resisters in Canada, 1965-73. Alyssa Manning is the lawyer representing US war resisters in Canada. The panel will be livestreamed here.

Any Day or Every Day
- Display a sign in your window in support of war resisters. Download a sign here.
- Make a donation to our defense campaign in support of U.S. war resisters. Please make cheque payable to the War Resisters Support Campaign and send to War Resisters Support Campaign, Box 13, 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1X7, Canada.


i am a youth librarian. this is a good thing.

I am so excited about my new position! As I mentioned, I am now a librarian in the Mississauga Central Library's "Readers' Den" department. It is a full-time position, and lasts until July of this year. Right now it feels like my ideal job; I only wish it were permanent.

My main areas of responsibility involve youth services. I'll be planning and delivering youth programming during school holidays, after school, and Saturdays, and I'll facilitate the teen book club that meets monthly. I'll be responsible for the library's youth book displays, and will share responsibilities for purchasing (and weeding) youth fiction.

For the department generally, I'll be writing a newsletter to connect school librarians with the Central Library, answering (along with two other librarians) "Ask A Librarian" emails, and of course, answering questions - especially readers' advisory - at the service desk.

I'll also have a lot of freedom to try new things. The manager and senior librarian are both creative and energetic, and will be supportive of projects and ideas. (At the moment, I feel like I'll never have another new idea again. I always feel this way when I start something new, so I've learned not to pay too much attention to that particular inner voice.)

Librarianship is definitely a "the job is what you make it" kind of field. Once you have a position you like, you can stick to your well-worn niche, do it well and enjoy it, and not venture too far out of your comfort zone, if that's what you prefer. But if you seek out new challenges and opportunities, there's plenty of room to grow. I get bored easily (in the big-picture sense) and need to constantly challenge myself. That's yet another aspect of this profession that suits me.

The only professional downside is that the position is temporary. This means that if a full-time, permanent librarian position posts elsewhere in the Mississauga system - even if it's less interesting to me, even if I've barely scratched the surface of my current job - I will apply and compete for it. I have no choice, as I don't want to return to a much lower level of responsibility and pay, as well as to part-time work. Fortunately, this is no secret.

The other downside, and perhaps the greatest challenge, is the personal one. The transition from part-time, freelance, or contract work - from a life filled with a variety of paid and unpaid activities and a lot of flexibility - to full-time work is no small task. That part I'm just figuring out day by day, week by week.


government destruction of environmental archives: the harper govt's war on facts marches on

At year's end, The Tyee reported that a memo - marked "secret" and first reported on OCanada.com - cast grave doubts on the Harper Government's claim that environmental archives were destroyed only after they had been preserved digitally. In other words, the memo proves what progressive and concerned Canadians have long known and suspected to be true.
A federal document marked "secret" obtained by Postmedia News indicates the closure or destruction of more than half a dozen world famous science libraries has little if anything to do with digitizing books as claimed by the Harper government.

In fact, the document, a compendium of cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that can be read in its entirety at the bottom of this story, mentions only the "culling of materials" as the "main activities" involved as the science libraries are reduced from nine to two. Specifically, it details "culling materials in the closed libraries or shipping them to the two locations and culling materials in the two locations to make room for collections from closed libraries."

In contrast, a government website says the closures are all about digitizing the books and providing greater access to Canadians -- a claim federal and retired scientists interviewed by The Tyee say is not true.
BoingBoing reports:
The destruction of these publicly owned collections was undertaken in haste. No records were kept of what was thrown away, what was sold, and what was simply lost. Some of the books were burned.
These actions must be seen in context of the Harper Government's ongoing and pervasive War on Facts. The Harper Government serves the interest of two groups: Canada's small but influential religious right, and the corporate elites, especially the very powerful extraction industries. And to keep these groups happy - or at least, when it comes to the religious right, mollified - the Government must appeal to the general public on an emotional, rather than factual, level. Evidence of this is all around.

The Government's war on immigration and refugees relies on denying facts and eliciting emotional reactions of envy, fear, and discontent: witness the "gold-plated" refugee health care plan that never existed, or Jason Kenney's frequent assertions that Roma and other persecuted peoples made "bogus" refugee claims.

Pouring taxpayer money into privatized for-profit prison schemes is all about denying facts (crime is at an all-time low) and playing on fears (liberal Canada was soft on criminals! criminals are coming to get you!).

And of course, there are the Big Lies. The war in Afghanistan is being fought to liberate women. Climate change doesn't exist. They have to deny and destroy a mountain of facts to support those whoppers.

What are the demise of the mandatory long-form census and the deep budget cuts to Statistics Canada if not a war on facts? Indeed, if government decisions are to be based on what's good for the energy industries and what social regressives want, then we'd better not keep accurate statistics. Statistics will only prove the depth and breadth of Harper's destructive effects on Canada.

Nothing makes the Harper Government's War on Facts more literal than its massive budget cuts to Library and Archives Canada, and its literal destruction of libraries. As Donald Gutstein points out in a 2012 Tyee story:
Why would the Harper government cut Canada's Library and Archives budget? Heritage Minister James Moore explained the 10 per cent overall cut would not hurt the agency because records could be digitized and made available to Canadians via the Internet.

But the 2012 budget cut the digitization staff by 50 per cent.
Gutstein enumerates the three overlapping motives behind the Harper Government's War on Facts. One, the need to "satisfy his party's evangelical base". Two, the drive for government-sanctioned, whitewashed history: cross-reference the celebration of The War of 1812 and Vimy Ridge, and my analysis of Discover Canada. And three, to silence voices that challenge the Harper Agenda.
Limiting access to Canada's actual archives makes it easier to promote revisionist histories like The Canadian Century, a book written by Harper government allies -- three libertarian economists with no formal historical training.

Authors are Brian Lee Crowley, head of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa, Niels Veldhuis, who now heads the Fraser Institute, and Jason Clemens, who once worked for the Fraser Institute and now is at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. They are among Canada's elite economic conservatives.
In this sense, the destruction of the environmental archives is to be expected from this Government. The original story from PostMedia demonstrates how perfectly it dovetails with the Harper agenda.
The downsizing also includes the shutdown of federal libraries and millions of dollars in reductions to climate change adaptation programs. In total, the department estimates it will cut about $80 million per year from its budget by 2014-15, and over $100 million per year in the following fiscal year.

But the cuts coincide with internal advice from top bureaucrats that the government should instead be increasing its spending in the department to protect both economic and environmental interests, particularly for Coast Guard services which are facing cuts equivalent to about $20 million by 2014-15 and 300 full-time jobs.

“Rising marine traffic, technological changes, climate change impacts (such as fluctuating water levels), and extended shipping seasons are among the factors expected to continue to place increased demands on Coast Guard services,” said briefing notes prepared for the department’s deputy minister Matthew King in December 2012. “For example, there are demands for increasing icebreaking services on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on the Great Lakes, for extending Marine Communications and Traffic Services, aids to navigation and ice breaking services in the Quebec North and Arctic for additional environmental response as well as search and rescue capacities in selected areas.”
I also note that more than a knowledge base and marine programs were destroyed. These budget cuts - and all budget cuts - represent massive job losses, making the lives of countless Canadians more precarious in a country that has already destroyed much of it social safety net.

The Harper Government says these budget cuts are necessary to eliminate a budget deficit... which speaks to the biggest lie of all: the fiscally conservative Conservative. For more on that subject: Harper is a fiscal conservative — except when he isn’t, and The Myth of Fiscal Conservatism. From the latter article, in Canadian Dissensus:
The idea of fiscal conservatism must be stripped bare and revealed for what it really is. It has no relation to budgetary probity and the wise use of public funds. Rather it is a rhetorical tool used to justify the selfish desire for tax cuts – regardless of the value – and provide intellectual cover for direct (or more typically indirect) regressive social policies and a more strident social conservatism. It is a tool of state retrenchment masquerading as prudent planning, of forcing governments to ‘live within their means’ while continuously reducing these means. It is a dishonest idea used by scoundrels. Sadly it is effective rhetoric. People still think Mussolini made the trains run on time.


happy new year from wmtc

On January 1, 2013, I was still in library school, and working as a library page. Allan's book proposal was still sitting on a publisher's desk. We were living at G's Court, and had no thought of moving.
In 2013, in order of appearance:
- Allan got a book contract,
- I got a promotion from page to circulation clerk,
- I finished my Master's degree,
- We went to Spain (plus London and Paris),
- I got my first librarian position, part-time,
- I broke my foot,
- Our basement, Allan's office, was destroyed by a sewage flood,
- We moved,
- The Red Sox won the World Series!
- Allan wrote a book!, and
- I got my first librarian position, full-time.

In 2014, I'd like to: work as a librarian, live in one place, and have all my friends and family (including the non-human creatures, of course) enjoy good health, all year long.

Here's to a quietly productive year to all who want it, and a year of change for all who are after something different. Happy New Year!