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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: elections, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 27
1. All (European) politics is national

By Jean Pisani-Ferry

At the end of May, 400 million EU citizens will be called to participate in the second-largest direct election in the world (the first being held in India). Since they last went to the polls to elect their parliament, in 2009, Europe has gone through an acute crisis that precipitated several countries deeper into recession than any peacetime shock they had suffered for a century. In several of the continent’s regions, more than a fourth of the labour force is unemployed. Over the last five years, the crisis has exposed many weaknesses in the design of the euro area and there has been no shortage of heated policy debates about the nature of the systemic reforms that were required. In the same vein, both the European Central Bank’s response and the pace of fiscal consolidation have been matters for ongoing controversies.

Against this background, one could expect political parties to offer clearly defined alternative choices for the future of Europe and citizens to participate to the elections en masse – even more so because the next parliament will have a say in the selection of the coming European Commission, the EU’s executive body. Expectations, however, are uniformly grim. Last time the election was held, turnout was 43% only. It is anticipated that it will be low again and that fringe national parties will be significant winners in the election. Throughout Europe, mainstream politicians are preparing for a setback. Some foresee a disaster.

There are three reasons for this paradox. First, citizens do not grasp what the European parliament is about. It is, in fact, an active and thorough legislator. Over the last five years, it has for example been an energetic player in the elaboration of a regulatory response to the global financial crisis and a staunch protector of European consumer. Recently it has played a major role in the creation of a banking union in the EU. But it is rarely the place where the debates that define the political agenda and capture the citizens’ attention are held.

european parliament

Second, dividing lines within parliament are often national rather than political. On industrial policy, trade and regulation, as well as far as relationships with neighbours are concerned, which country you belong to matters as much as which camp you are from. Consequently, issues are often settled with a compromise that blurs the separation between left and right. As in addition virtually all the media are national and generally pitch the debate as opposing the national capital and ‘Brussels’ or another capital, voters have no perception of the sometimes very real differences between left and right.

Third, the fundamental European debate is of a constitutional nature and for this reason it cannot be settled by the parliament. This is true of the key issues that arose during the euro crisis: whether to rescue countries in trouble, whether to mutualise public debt, whether to change the decision rule for sanctions against excessive budget deficits, whether to go for a banking union. Each time the big question was, what do Germany, France and other Eurozone countries think? It was not what does the European parliament think, because almost by definition the parliament has always been in favour of more Europe.

These three obstacles to a pan-European political debate explain why fringe anti-EU parties like the UK Independence Party (UKIP), or the French National Front generally do well in the European parliament elections. Their simple message is that European integration is the wrong way to go and that national governments should repatriate powers from Brussels. As the scope for disagreement between the two main centre-right and centre-left parties is much narrower than the range of views amongst voters, voters who have sympathy for the anti-EU know why and for whom they should vote while those who are in favour of European integration do not have many reasons to vote, because the mainstream parties’ platforms are largely interchangeable.

To overcome the obstacle, a recent reform has stipulated that when appointing the European Commission’s president, the heads of state and government should take into account the result of the elections to the European parliament. In principle therefore, the next European Commission president will belong to the party holding the (relative) majority in the European parliament. Furthermore, the main parties have already nominated their candidates to the European Commission. This politicisation is meant to flag to the citizens that their vote matters and will result in determining the roadmap for the next five years. Unfortunately however, it is not clear whether mainstream parties will be able to formulate policy platforms that are defined enough to attract voters.

Does it matter? After all Europe’s situation is not unique. In the US participation rates in the mid-term elections (when the presidency is not in the ballot) are generally well below 50%. They are also rather low in other federations like India or Switzerland. As Tip O’Neill, the former speaker of the US House, used to say, “all politics is local” and this affects the voters’ behaviour. Europe, in a way, is awkward, but normal: the EU does the legislation, but politics is national.

This is however a too complacent reading of the reality. At a time when countries participating in the euro are confronted with major choices, the risk for Europe is to emerge from the elections with a weak legitimacy (because of the turnout) and a politically distorted parliament (because of the strong showing of the fringe parties). This would make governments wary of bold choices and could result in an unhealthy stalemate. It is not yet time for the EU to become boringly normal.

Jean Pisani-Ferry currently serves as the Commissioner-General for Policy Planning to the Prime Minister of France. He is also Professor of Economics and Public Management at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Until May 2013 he was the director of Bruegel, the Brussels-based economic think tank he contributed to founding in 2005. He is the author of The Euro Crisis and Its Aftermath.

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Image credit: The European Parliament, Brussels. Photo by Alina Zienowicz. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The post All (European) politics is national appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. 2014 ALSC Election Results

Many thanks to all of the candidates who ran for division office this year. These folks put their time and talents up for the division and we thank them. Here are the results from the 2014 ALSC Elections:

Vice President/President-elect

Andrew Medlar

Board of Director

Doris Gebel
Julie Roach
Kay Weisman

2016 Caldecott Committee

Lauren, Anduri
Alan Bailey
Brian Fahey
Jill Bellomy
Karen MacPherson
Sarah Bean Thompson
Tess Prendergast
Tessa Michaelson-Schmidt

2016 Newbery Committee

Allie Jane Bruce
Cheryl Lee
Christine Scheper
Destinee Sutton
Eric Barbus
Joanna Ward
Shawn Brommer
Ty Burns

2016 Sibert Committee

Alan Bern
Eric Gomez
Grace Ruth
Nick Glass
Susan Lempke

2017 Wilder Committee

Maria Gentle
Carolyn Phelan
Kathleen Isaacs

To learn more about ALA’s election results, please visit the ALA Election Information page.

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3. Andrew Medlar: 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President Elect Candidate

In an effort to help ALSC members make an informed decision before they vote, the blog posts today consist of interviews with the candidates for 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect: Tim Wadham and Andrew Medlar. Each candidate was given ten questions and submitted written answers.

This afternoon’s interview is with Andrew Medlar:

1.      What do you consider the most important role of the ALSC President?

Medlar Photo 2(1)

Photo supplied by Andrew Medlar

The ALSC President must enthusiastically and wisely lead our organization along the track of our strategic plan toward the Big Hairy Audacious Goal of ensuring that libraries are recognized as vital to all children and the communities that support them. A key element of that is the responsibility to facilitate and support the brilliant work that our members are doing every day and to represent us to the rest of ALA and the wider world.

2.      What skills & strengths would you bring to the office?

I like to put ideas into action, and one thing that will enable me to do this effectively as President is my knowledge of, and experience with, how the structure of ALSC and ALA functions. I know what it’s like to serve on and chair ALSC committees and task forces, I’ve represented ALSC not only on Council (where I co-convene the Youth Council Caucus) but also other ALA bodies such as the Planning & Budget Assembly, and I served as ALSC Budget Committee chair twice during the beginning of the Great Recession. My current position on the ALSC Board’s Executive Committee gives me insight and participation on current issues, and my day job as Assistant Commissioner at Chicago Public Library continually sharpens my skills in advocating and building consensus in order to improve library service. However above all, I believe that my greatest strength is passion for our work as an association and as individual members.

3.      What area of library service to children is your favorite?

It’s impossible for me to pick just one because they really are all so connected. Since a single shift in the children’s room can involve programming, reference, collection development, advocacy, and picking up and putting away all of the Duplos, we have to be sure to recognize and actively appreciate how all of the many different aspects of the work our members do comes together to create a better future for kids. And, actually, I think THAT is my favorite part of library service to children: the variety, because no day is ever dull!

4.      Why should someone choose to join ALSC? What services do you feel ALSC provides that are valuable to new members? To long-term members?

If someone should buy real estate because of location, location, location, someone should join ALSC because of people, people, people. It’s so valuable the way we as members collaborate on advocacy, education, and access, and these aren’t just words in our strategic plan. As specific ALSC goal areas these are commitments that our organization has made to ourselves and from which all of us benefit. ALSC’s Mentoring Program is a great example of how ALSC can serve both new and long-term members in different ways even at the same time, and in all of our efforts we recognize and share different perspectives and common challenges, which is advantageous for everyone.

5.      What are your ideas for reaching and involving members? What are your ideas to recruit new members?

At Midwinter in Philadelphia I met a local group of fabulous new and soon-to-be ALSC members who had come to observe the Youth Council Caucus meeting, and their energy, ideas, initiative, and questions were so exciting! And while that kind of personal connection is wonderful, to reach more folks who don’t have such convenient or economical access to a national library event in their backyard, the continuing development of the ALSC Roadshow is a fantastic way to find and encourage new members where they’re at.

And we also need to do more of that electronically, as I’m a firm believer in continuing to strengthen the virtual work we’ve already begun. During my service on several virtual task forces and in many online ALSC community forums I’ve experienced first-hand how well they can work, and am also very aware of the ways in which they need continual development. And moving forward, the need for ALSC to liaise with even more non-library associations and groups concerned with youth issues will continue to grow in importance in our inter-related world and will bring even more members, and often less traditional ones, into our community.

6.      How has ALSC membership impacted your life?  How has your membership in ALSC impacted library service to children?

ALSC has given me education, fun, opportunity, and friends, which I consider a fantastic bargain! And I’m always conscious of the importance of sharing those benefits with my colleagues and kids. This can run the gamut from sharing the latest research on the role of play in learning from an ALSC white paper to sharing my real-life experience with others during a Mock Caldecott discussion to sharing a new fingerplay I read about on ALSC-L.

7.     Changes in the economy and advances in technology are dramatically impacting libraries. What are your thoughts on how ALSC can best continue to be a positive force for librarians, for libraries, and for children?

Looking for ways to be increasingly nimble is important for this premier membership organization in such a rapidly evolving profession as ours, and I believe that is doable, especially in the content of the work now going on ALA-wide to “re-imagine” ALA itself. Being able to respond to change (and to do it economically) is vital and the “Hot Topic” programs coming up at Annual in Las Vegas will go far in providing the very latest developments affecting our work. And ALSC’s impressive Everyday Advocacy efforts are a superb way for everyone providing and caring about library service to children to be a positive force as issues pop up and evolve. We can also do this by supporting, encouraging, and spreading the word about distinguished content for children, including for underrepresented communities, with our world famous and financially impactful media awards.

8.      What strengths would you bring to help ALSC attain the goals of the ALSC Strategic Plan?

Knowing how to work with both large and small groups and how to accomplish objectives within the context of ALA is a practical strength of mine, particularly as we strive to attain our strategic goals. I also bring a close familiarity with the Plan as I’ve been a member of the ALSC Board’s Executive Committee since the Plan’s first year and so have been involved in its implementation and ongoing evaluation. And I also look forward to sharing my belief in the importance of consensus building, knowledge-based decision making, and spirit of collaboration, not to mention the aforementioned passion for our work!

9.      What is your motivation in running for this position?

My motivation is all about moving forward, reaching out, and giving back. Keeping any organization relevant through changing times is a constant challenge and I’m determined (and convinced!) that ALSC will be around for a long, long time, so am very motivated to help move us all forward with such things as increased expertise and presence around apps and digital storytelling. I feel it’s important for us to reach out further, both inside and outside libraries, for greater inclusiveness with current and potential members and also for collaborations with a wider range of other youth-focused organizations to increase the recognition of, and access to, library services for all kids. And I continue to receive so much from my experiences here that I want to give back to ALSC, especially in this special role, to ensure that others get that same chance.

10.    What else would you like the voting ALSC membership to know about you before they vote?

I have literally been involved with library service to children since before I was born (as a librarian herself, my mom didn’t wait for her July due date to sign me up on the first day of that year’s summer reading program in June) and have done every job there is to do in a library, from shelving picture books to advocating with the First Lady, and as a true believer in ALSC’s work and our Desired Future, I ask for the honor of your vote to represent all of us as Vice President/President-Elect. And please follow me on Twitter @ammlib so we can continue the conversation! #AndrewIsForALSC

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4. Tim Wadham: 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President Elect Candidate

In an effort to help ALSC members make an informed decision before they vote, the blog posts today consist of interviews with the candidates for 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect: Tim Wadham and Andrew Medlar. Each candidate was given ten questions and submitted written answers.

This morning’s interview is with Tim Wadham:

1.      What do you consider the most important role of the ALSC President?


Photo supplied by Tim Wadham

One of the most important aspects of the ALSC’s President’s role is to be the face of the organization to the general public.  Certainly, the ALSC President shapes the makeup of committees through their appointments, but more important than that is being able to be articulate as they act in the role of spokesperson.

2.      What skills & strengths would you bring to the office?

As a library director, one of my primary responsibilities is to be the face of the library in the community and to build community support in order to advocate for the library with elected officials.  This is a strength I would bring as I filled a similar role for ALSC.   The office also requires someone who is an advocate.  I would bring to the office the fact that, for me, children’s librarianship has not been just a profession but rather a life long passion.  I think I first knew I wanted to be a children’s librarian when I was still a kid participating in summer reading club in my local public library.  I would call the ALA press office at Midwinter to find out which books had won the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, then I would bike the dozen or so blocks to the library so I could be the first to tell my librarians of the winners (this was in the days before internet and the webcast).

Professionally, I started out as a children’s librarian and have always sought positions that would allow me to keep my hand and heart active in children’s services.  I would bring the political skills that I have developed as a library administrator, working with library boards and challenging city councils.  One of my strengths is leading effective meetings (know when to stop and make sure that meetings result in actionable assignments and that real decision-making occurs).  Through my experience as a deputy director and library director I have learned the skills necessary to get consensus within diverse, challenging groups.

Beyond these skills and strengths, I would bring to the office a passion and enthusiasm for the work of ALSC.  I was once asked if I could describe myself in two words, and I asked if one of the words could be hyphenated.  Receiving a positive response, I replied: “Enthusiastic book-missionary.”

3.      What area of library service to children is your favorite?

I suppose that my favorite area of library service to children has to be the programming aspect.  One of the appeals of being a children’s librarian is the opportunity it affords to indulge all your artistic impulses.  You can be an actor, a producer, a musician, a puppeteer, a storyteller and an artist.  I love doing storytimes.  Creating voices for the characters in picture books reminds me of the fun I had in high school doing humorous interpretations of selections from plays.  I enjoy producing and presenting puppet shows—including finding the right book, writing an adaptation, finding the background music, along with all of the other challenges such as building a puppet stage and finding the funding for custom puppets.  And I love doing author programs and introducing kids to their favorite authors.

4.      Why should someone choose to join ALSC? What services do you feel ALSC provides that are valuable to new members? To long-term members?

Membership in ALSC is incredibly rewarding.  ALSC provides the opportunity for like-minded children’s services librarians to share ideas, and most importantly become friends.  I was able to attend my first ALA annual conference due to ALSC and the Penguin Young Readers Group Award which helped cover my expenses to travel to New Orleans.  It didn’t hurt that Penguin was the winning publisher of the Caldecott winner that year (Owl Moon), and that my first conference was also my first opportunity to attend the Newbery/Caldecott banquet.  Over my 27 years as an ALSC member, I have made wonderful friends who I look forward to seeing twice a year at conference.  In that regard, ALSC is better than both Facebook and LinkedIn.  It provides a network of both colleagues and friends who you can know face to face and on whom you can call for assistance or advice.  It has also provided me, as a long-term member, an opportunity to give back by mentoring new librarians coming into the profession.

5.      What are your ideas for reaching and involving members? What are your ideas to recruit new members?

Long years of doing outreach have convinced me that the best way of reaching and involving anyone in an organization or institution is to go where the people are rather than waiting for them to come to you.  That may not be practical on a national scale, but I would certainly consider ways of reaching and involving members by finding them where they hang out virtually, rather than expecting them to come to the ALSC listserv or other official methods of communication.  Reaching out to them first may bring them to tools such as ALA Connect.  This outreach can also be a focus for recruitment efforts.  Perhaps there needs to be a way for ALSC to have ambassadors at state library conferences who can do recruiting—passionate members who know the value of being involved professionally.

The emergence of virtual committees has gone better than I ever anticipated when I was on the ALSC board working on the idea.  With the right chair, a virtual committee can be the perfect way to involve more members and to make them feel more a part of the association.  Recruitment of new members has to emphasize that there are more opportunities than ever to be a fully participating member of ALSC.  Our ALSC ambassadors can promote how important professional involvement is for career advancement.

6.      How has ALSC membership impacted your life?  How has your membership in ALSC impacted library service to children?

ALSC membership allowed me to fulfill a dream I have had since I was a child, which was to be on the Newbery committee.  That alone was a huge accomplishment for a kid who was first challenged to read all the Newbery Medal winners by his middle-school librarian.  The level of discussion on the Newbery committee forever changed the way I think about and evaluate books and share books with kids.  ALSC membership gave me the motivation to apply for and host two May Hill Arbuthnot lectures: Lois Lowry at the St. Louis County Library, and Ursula K. LeGuin at the Maricopa County Library in partnership with the Arizona State Library.

My many committee assignments have impacted my library service to children in ways as simple as providing me with information on titles, such as my service on the Notable Videos and Carnegie Medal committees, which gave me invaluable help with video collection development and exposed me to wonderful films I might not have known about otherwise.  Many librarians value the “stamp of approval” that comes with the notable lists and other award lists and rely heavily on titles recommended by ALSC committees in their collection development.   Beyond that, my experiences as a participating member of ALSC have given me tools to be a better librarian.

7.     Changes in the economy and advances in technology are dramatically impacting libraries. What are your thoughts on how ALSC can best continue to be a positive force for librarians, for libraries, and for children?

My experience as an adjunct professor for the University of Arizona teaching children’s literature and youth services in public libraries taught me that what new professionals most want is practical education about what they can expect in the field.  They don’t want abstract theory.  ALSC can be most effective by providing practical information to children’s librarians on the front lines.  When I began my first job in the Dallas Public Library system, I was never given a mentor to demonstrate best practices for storytimes, and I had to learn what worked on my own.  The best way ALSC can continue to be a positive force is to find ways to disseminate practical information to practicing professionals.  We can be creative in the ways and locations we put out this information, and equally inventive in prioritizing the kinds of information that can come from ALSC.  As an example, the association can disseminate information on best practices for using technology in the day to day work of children’s librarians.  My staff are experimenting with creative new ways of using tablets for storytimes and finding that this technology allows us to think of storytimes in a way we never had previously.  We are able to project books that formerly we couldn’t share with a large group because of their size.  We can show films, or even use book apps in storytime.  These are the kinds of things that should be shared as widely as possible.  Focusing on this will result in librarians with more tools in their tool belt, able to advocate articulately for their libraries, and ultimately enriching the lives of children who come in to their libraries.

8.      What strengths would you bring to help ALSC attain the goals of the ALSC Strategic Plan?

I was part of the 2010 meeting that resulted in the strategic plan and I strongly support the three strategic goals that resulted from the process.  1) Advocacy.  Being an advocate is one of my strengths.  I love libraries and I believe in children’s books.  I am happy to tell anyone at any time why they should read out loud to their child and why libraries are important and not passé.  Advocacy begins with the education, training, and mentoring of new librarians coming into the profession.  2) Education.  ALSC plays an important role in the ongoing education of professionals who serve children in libraries.  ALSC can expand that role and find new ways to accomplish it.  As someone who has taught children’s services to prospective professionals, I have a clear vision of what effective teaching can accomplish.  3) Access to Library Services.  I have always believed that libraries are the great equalizer.  I can bring my experience expanding library and book access for children speaking languages other than English.  Parents from cultures where there is not a strong tradition of public library service need to feel that they’ve been given permission to come into the public library along with their children.

9.      What is your motivation in running for this position?

I have been inspired watching many past presidents serve with class and with grace and I’ve seen the impacts that they were able to make in their presidential years.  My three years of service on the ALSC board gave me insight into how the board works, and taught me how I can be an effective president.  Being asked to run for ALSC President has given me the opportunity for some introspection as to the issues that I truly and deeply care about.  I am motivated by the opportunity that being ALSC President would give to focus on these priorities: 1) Building a better relationship between ALSC and our sister youth divisions.  2) Advocating for the rich legacy of books that should be part of every child’s life, to keep them from being slowly weeded from our collective memory, and encouraging children to appreciate the value of fiction in their lives.  3) Library service to Spanish-speaking children has been a strong professional interest of mine, and I want to advocate for the provision of multi-cultural literature (and library service) to all children and families that equitably bridges the barriers of culture and language.  4) I am concerned that we may be neglecting our middle graders and I believe that we can build on the success of our early literacy efforts to provide literature-based programs for 8-11 year-olds.  Finally, I am motivated by the opportunity of a national platform to speak out about the power that books and stories have in the lives of young people to whoever will listen.

10.    What else would you like the voting ALSC membership to know about you before they vote?

My ultimate goal when providing any library service is always to make a difference and to change the lives of those served in some small way.  Following are two of the many experiences that I feel have achieved this goal:

In partnership with Childsplay Children’s Theater, I commissioned and participated in the writing and development of a play based on the children’s book Tomás and the Library Lady, which was performed for over 70,000 children within the Maricopa County Library District.  Since that time, the play has been performed before countless other children on national tour and in productions by children’s theater companies across the country—including a performance in Hampton, Iowa, where the original story actually took place.  To this day I feel that this has been one of the most important things I have done in my career in terms of the number of children impacted by it and the way it impacted them.  This was encapsulated by the simple response of one child after seeing the show: “I speak Spanish, just like Tomás!”

I commissioned Bill Harley, James Deem and Wendelin Van Draanen to write original novels for which I developed interactive websites, creating the concept of the “online novel.”  New chapters were put up on the web on a regular basis, and the websites included curriculum connections for teachers using the novel in their classrooms.  This project won the John Cotton Dana Public Relations Award, the NAACO (National Association of County Organizations) Best of Category Award, and Highsmith Award for Library Innovation.  Two of the novels were later published for the trade market, after appearing first exclusively on our library website.

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5. Fusenews: Paddington V. Pooh (supporters could call themselves marmalites and hunnies)

You folks have been awfully good about my recent shoddy blogging, so I tip my hat in your general direction.  Jules of 7-Imp and I are putting the final touches on our book for Candlewick editing-wise and, as you might imagine, it eats up large swaths of time like an irate and hungry badger.  There is no situation in which a badger cannot be used as an example.  True fact.

In other news, there’s an author/illustrator out there that I happen to like very much.  His name is Aaron Zenz and over the years he has startled me time and again with the relative brilliance of his creativity.  If he wasn’t making multiple inspired pieces for the Re-Seussification Project then his kids were contributing to the stellar Boogie Woogie blog.  Well, Aaron and Co. are some of my favorite folks so when I saw the Friends of Zenz page asking to help ‘em out in the midst of some pretty upsetting surgery, you can bet I jumped on board.  If you’ve a minute, you can too.  They’re swell folks.

So I got to meet J.K. Rowling the other day.  Yup.  The woman who basically set me on the path of children’s librarianship in the first place via her books and I up and met her.  You see the good Dan Blank had tickets and one of those tickets happened to have my name on it.  So I got to see her speak with Ann Patchett about this adult novel of hers The Casual Vacancy (a title I’m certain she stole from the notes of Lemony Snicket) and then I stood in a long line and got my copy signed.  The conversation between us is as follows:

J.K. Rowling: Thanks for coming.

Betsy Bird:  Guh.

Many thanks to Dan for the opportunity.  He’s blogged about the experience here and just so you writer folks know, he’s doing another session of his author platform course starting Oct 31, with a free webinar. The course features Jane Friedman, Richard Nash, Colleen Lindsay, Kathleen Schmidt, Joanna Penn and Jeff Goins as guest speakers.  Info on the session is here and the webinar is here.

COMIC LEGEND: There was a Winnie the Pooh comic strip where the characters acted a lot more aggressively than most Winnie the Pooh fans are used to.


Thus we find the strangest and maybe most engaging link of the day.  Apparently there was a Winnie-the-Pooh syndicated comic strip out there for a while that contained the Disneyfied Pooh and friends.  And apparently it was written by some seriously odd souls.  How else to explain some of these downright weird inclusions?  Comic Book Legends Revealed explains more (you’ll have to scroll down a little but they’re worth finding).  This one’s my favorite:


And speaking of bears . . . how do you get kids interested in the political process?  Have ‘em vote for bears, of course!  The West Linn Public Library had an inspired idea.  They’re holding a bear election through election day on November 6 and, as they explained it to me:

“inviting kids (and adults) to vote for their favorite bear from children’s literature: Pooh, Paddington, Mama Berenstain, or Corduroy. We have also gotten staff involved by asking them to volunteer to be bear campaign managers. The response from staff and patrons has been tremendous! Our campaign managers have embraced their roles beyond my wildest dreams by designing posters, stickers, bookmarks, and games to support their bear.We are having so much fun that I thought I would share with other libraries. I have even created a campaign video for my candidate, Mama Bear—here is that link: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=vb.153513568034372&type=2“  Love it!  I suppose I’m a staunch Pooh supporter thanks to my job, but it’s tough.  Paddington comes in at a close second in my heart.

Okay, let’s do the Me Stuff all in one fell swoop today.  First off, I made a reading list for NYC’s New Victory Theater to accompany their upcoming shows.  Check it out here.  I never properly thanked Miss Kathleen at Mental Floss for including me in the 24 Library-Centric Sites We Love round-up, to say nothing of the compliments regarding my video with Travis Jonker. Thanks to Maureen Petry for the links!  I’m speaking at a Joan Aiken event tonight so enjoy this piece written by Lizza Aiken, Joan’s daughter, entitled Voices: The magical mysteries of children’s literature.  I was interviewed at the blog The Children’s Book Review as part of their ongoing librarian series.  And the Children’s Media Association blog gave me what could well be the most flattering spotlight I’ve received in my long internet life. Whew!

There was a Bibliography-Off between Judy Blume and one of my favorite comics Patton Oswalt not long ago.  As Jezebel described it, “The only thing that could really be better than this (for a Sunday, anyway) is if Calvin and Hobbes were real and they spoke at a TED Talk about the vividness of a small child’s imagination.” I just wish S.E. Hinton had heeded Patton’s call to give him a hand.  She’s on Twitter all the time, y’know.  Thanks to Marjorie Ingall for the link!

Maybe you can’t see Phil Nel speaking in my library tomorrow about Crockett Johnson.  If not, here’s the next best thing.

All right.  Enough with the books.  Let’s look at some up-to-date movie news directly from Cynopsis Kids.  First up:

Nickelodeon begins production this month on its new original comedy/caper TV movie, Swindle, which will star a bevy of the network’s stars including Jennette McCurdy (iCarly), Noah Crawford (How to Rock, You Gotta See This), Noah Munck (iCarly), Ariana Grande (Victorious), Chris O’Neal (How to Rock, You Gotta See This) and Ciara Bravo (Big Time Rush). Based on the popular kids book of the same name by Gordon Korman, the movie will be shot in Vancouver Canada. The movie is set to begin airing in 2014 on Nickelodeon’s 40+ international channels across Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. The story begins when an evil collector cons Griffin (Crawford) out of a million dollar baseball card that could have saved his best friend’s (O’Neal) home, he teams a ragtag group of his classmates (Grande, McCurdy, Munck and Bravo) to take down the swindler. Directed by Jonathan Judge (Big Time Rush, Fred 3), Swindle is written by Bill Motz (Brandy & Mr. Whiskers) & Bob Roth (Lion King 2), Eric Freiser (Road to Ruin) and Adam Rifkin (Small Soliders, Mousehunt). Marjorie Cohn (Big Time Movie, Rags), Lauren Levine (Bridge to Terabithia, Best Player), Loris Lunsford, Karen Glass and Paul Barry serve as executive producers. Scott McAboy’s Pacific Bay Entertainment is producing.”

Second up:

“Toronto-based Radical Sheep Productions (Stella and Sam, Yub Yubs, The Big Comfy Couch) acquires the rights to the graphic novel series Fangbone! Third-Grade Barbarian, by author/illustrator Michael Rex (Goodnight Goon, The Runaway Mummy). Under the deal Radical Sheep will develop a K6-11 aimed animated series based on Fangbone! The story revolves around Fangbone, a nine-year-old barbarian warrior from Skullbania who winds up in third grade at Eastwood Elementary in order to save his native land from the evildoer Venomous Drool. With the help of his new pal Bill, a lovable, average, goofy kid, Fangbone outwits his enemies while discovering the modern world.”

Sometimes the title sells it alone: Children’s Author Illustrator Elisha Cooper Gives Lecture on “Inappropriate” Children’s Books.

New Blog Alert: The election’s coming up and everyone’s getting ready.  With that in mind, did you know that there’s a blog out there solely dedicated to talking about political children’s books?  Kid Lit About Politics it’s called.  One for the radar.

New Blog Alert II: For that matter did you know there was a mother-son blog out there (adult mother and son!) called crossreferencing: a hereditary blog?  Yep.  There you can find Sarah and Mark Flowers as they, “discuss YA Literature and Librarianship from our dual perspectives.”  It’s pretty cool.

New Blog Alert III: Tis the season.  This third new blog is actual that of The Junior Library Guild called Shelf Life.  It’s currently doing a wonderful job of discussing current issues and hot books.  Of particular note is the post Save [Books of Wonder] and Save Your Soul.  Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Have you ever watched the movie Matilda and thought to yourself, Whatever happened to child actress Mara Wilson?  Thank god for the internet, eh?  Thanks to Brita for the link.

On a serious note there is a lovely memory of Peter Sieruta up at the blog Archives and Special Collections.  It happens to include what may be the first picture of Peter to ever make it to the world wide web.  God, I miss that guy.

The Onion’s A.V. Club has been a bit lazy in their looks at children’s and YA literature but this recent post on 2012 graphic novels is well worth reading. Many thanks to Eric Carpenter for the link!

Daily Image:

Just knowing that Gabi Swiatkowska has a blog where she displays art like the pieces below is enough to make my life complete.

Thanks to Jane Curley for the link.

5 Comments on Fusenews: Paddington V. Pooh (supporters could call themselves marmalites and hunnies), last added: 10/27/2012
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6. Fake Mustache - a review

Angleberger, Tom. 2012. Fake Mustache: How Jodie O'Rodeo and her Wonder Horse (and some nerdy kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind. New York: Amulet.

(Advance Reader Copy supplied by publisher)

With another impossibly long title (who can forget last year's hilarious Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset?), Tom Angleberger is ready to unleash another load of laughs on eagerly waiting middle schoolers in Fake Mustache: How Jodie O'Rodeo and her Wonder Horse (and some nerdy kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind.

In retrospect, 7th grader, Lenny Flem, Jr., realizes that he never should have loaned his friend Casper Bengue, the ten dollars to buy the Heidelberg Handlebar Number Seven from Hairsprinkle's own Sven's Fair Price Store.  The mustache, combined with the "man-about-town" suit purchased at Chauncey's Big & Small, Short & Tall Shop, enable a chain of events that threaten the town of Hairsprinkle, the presidential election and especially, Lenny Flem, Jr.  A cast of zany characters, including washed-up teen rodeo queen, Jodie O'Rodeo, fill out this funny, improbable adventure story.

Midway through the story, the first-person narration switches from Lenny to Jodie, so the reader doesn't miss any of the action.  Angleberger's humor can be blatantly obvious, as in the "first-ever billion-dollar bank robbery" "carried out by a gang of strolling accordion players," or hidden away for those who take notice. 

One chapter ends,

"No, thanks," I told the mime. "You clowns can either let us both go or get your heinies kicked.  What'll it be?"
"First of all, I'm not a clown.  I'm a mime.  Second of all, do you really think you can kick the heinies of Hairsprinkle's top ten karate instructors?"
"I only see five."
"Look behind you." 
And what, you ask, is the title of the next chapter?  Why, "Behind Me," of course!

Kids looking for a quick and goofy read will devour this book as quickly as a Hairsprinkle Hot Dog!

I look forward to seeing the finished artwork, which was not ready in time for the printing of this Advance Reader Copy.

Note: Just in case you're disappointed with our own election season and are seeking another choice, Tom Angleberger has got you covered.  Get your Vote Fako! bumper sticker.  Heck, he'll even throw in a free mustache (but not the Heidelberg Handlebar Number Seven - it's simply too dangerous!)
Other reviews @
Fuse #8
Educating Alice

Coming to a bookshelf near you on April 1st.

1 Comments on Fake Mustache - a review, last added: 2/6/2012
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7. Citizens United: a first anniversary update

By Bill Wiist

Little more than a year after the January 21, 2010 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission, it is already apparent that the effects of the ruling are widespread, contaminate the democratic processes, and could be long-lasting. Because the effects of the ruling on the 2010 election campaign were significant, the potential effects on public health could be pervasive. Finding new ways to undo its pernicious consequences is an important public health goal.

The Ruling

The Citizens United ruling overthrew previous laws and court rulings ranging from the early 1900’s to parts of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, sometimes known as the McCain-Feingold law. The Court ruled that previous laws and regulations were so restrictive as to prohibit free speech. The ruling gave corporations the right to use unlimited amounts of money directly from the corporation’s treasury for independent election campaign advocacy. The results of the decision were immediately revealed in the November 2010 mid-term U.S. Congressional election campaign and its aftermath.

The Relevance of the Court’s Ruling to Public Health

Corporate wealth gives companies the special ability to develop and test communications that frame issues, appeal to emotions, provide inaccurate and incomplete information, and increase the cognitive availability of ideas. This allows them to take advantage of voters’ decision-making vulnerabilities. Thus, corporate campaign election funds could be directed into tailored messages for or against candidates who take positions on a variety of public health issues ranging from abortion, coal-fired power plants, menu labeling, and worker health, to budget appropriations and other aspects of health that are vulnerable to market forces. Corporate lobbyists could pressure elected officials based on their contributions to the official’s campaign as a means of gaining legislative favors. Donations from insurance and pharmaceutical corporations in the 2008 election cycle seem to have gained them access and influence during health care financing reform. After the 2010 election Representative Issa (R-Calif.), chair of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, reportedly asked 150 trade associations, corporations and think tanks to provide a wish list of public health, environmental and other public protections they wanted eliminated. The Court’s ruling in Citizens United has raised concerns about the government’s ability to regulate the commercial speech of tobacco and other corporations in advertising their products.

Follow the money

More money ($4 billion) was spent on the 2010 congressional elections by political parties and outside groups than in any previous midterm election cycle.  According to reports by Public Citizen, in the 2010 election independent organizations that were the direct beneficiaries of corporate largess after the Citizens United ruling increased spending more than 400% over the 2006 mid-term election. About 54% of them disclosed anything about their sources. The groups that did not disclose information about sources spent 46% of the total $294 million spent by outside organizations on the election. In 60 of the 75 Congressional elections in which the seat was won by a candidate from a party different than the incumbent, the spending by outside organizations favored the winner. In the Senate election, winners had a 7-to-1 advantage in spending by outside organizations. The corporate funding ties and the political expenditures of some of the most influential of the independent organizations are known.

Campaign finance and disclosure laws in mo

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8. Is the Brotherhood part of Egypt’s future, or just its past?

By Geneive Abdo

Over the past several weeks, leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood have placed on public display the lessons they have learned as Egypt’s officially banned but most influential social and political movement by trying to pre-empt alarmist declarations that the country is now headed for an Iran-style theocracy.

Members of the venerable Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by an Egyptian school teacher to revitalize Islam and oppose British colonial rule, have so far stated no plans to run a candidate in the next presidential election, and they surprised many by their halting participation in the transitional government, after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. They also have made it clear that they have no desire to seek a majority in the Egyptian parliament, when free elections are held, as promised by Egypt’s current military rulers. In fact, the Brotherhood has voiced its commitment to work with all groups within the opposition – including the secular-leaning youth who inspired the revolution – without demanding a leading role for itself.

These gestures have produced two reactions from Western governments and other international actors heavily invested in Egypt’s future: Some simply see this as evidence that there is no reason to fear the Brotherhood will become a dominant force in the next government.

Others view the Brotherhood’s public declarations with skepticism, saying the promises are designed simply to head off any anxiety over the future influence and scope of the religious-based movement. For example, British Minister David Cameron, who last week became the first foreign leader to visit Egypt after Mubarak’s downfall, refused to meet Brotherhood leaders, saying he wanted the people to see there are political alternatives to “extreme” Islamist opposition. Such simplistic characterization of the Muslim Brotherhood simply echoes Mubarak’s long-term tactic to scare the West into supporting his authoritarian rule as the best alternative to Islamic extremism.

But the future on the horizon for the Brotherhood lies most likely somewhere between these divergent views. Now that Egyptians have freed themselves from decades of restraint and fear, a liberalized party system will logically follow, reflecting the values, aspirations and religious beliefs of Egyptian society as a whole.

What the outside world seems to have missed during the many decades since the Brotherhood was banned is the fact that the movement has never been a political and social force somehow detached from Egyptian society. Rather, the widespread popularity of the movement – which is fragmented along generational lines – can be best explained by the extent to which it reflects the views of a vast swathe of Egyptians.

The Brotherhood has waited patiently for society to evolve beyond the Free Officers movement of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Beginning in the early 1990s, it was clear that Islamization was taking hold in Egypt. In my book, No God But God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam, which documented the societal transformation from a secular to more religious Egypt during the 1990s, I made it clear that the Brotherhood was on the rise. This was in part responsible for the Brotherhood’s strong showing in parliamentary elections in 2005, when they ran candidates as independents because Egyptian law prohibits religiously-based parties to run candidates in elections.

The question now is wh

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9. Hot Topics: Vote!

There are some key places and activities I remember very clearly from my earliest days — going to the library every week; sledding down the biggest “hill” Long Island could manage; waiting at the bus stop in the near dark; and…voting on election day!

No, I wasn’t sneaking in on a very well-made fake ID. My parents, who now vote early in the morning (or even earlier in the week), waited until evening so they could bring us. We’d wait on the line (which, in retrospect, must have driven my mother crazy) and then I’d go into the booth with one parent and my sister with the other. We’d get to pull the big red lever and then watch and listen as they voted. I don’t remember specifics, but I’m pretty sure they always cancelled each other out – Carter-Ford, Reagan-Carter, etc. But I thought it was amazing.

My first big election was in 1988. I was in college and we had all sent in for absentee ballots. In early October, a large group sat around the big table in the common area and filled in our ballots together — for Dukakis (I should mention that we were the creative and performing arts dorm and only allowed one or two Republicans per semester to live there.). It was fun and then very exciting to join an even larger crowd in the TV room on election night.

Over the years, there have other election days and other election night parties. I’ll be going to one tonight in the hopes of celebrating a “Yea” vote on my local library referendum.

My point: just as readers beget readers; voters beget voters. My sister and I are readers, in large part, because our parents are readers. They “modelled” reading, as the experts say. And they modelled voting as well. They didn’t make it seem important and fun; They made it important and fun. It wasn’t a right or even really a duty. Voting is something you do as a member of society and you should have joy in doing so.

As an adult, when I try to talk people into voting (rarely, since I tend to hang out with like-minded people), I talk about it as a duty, but also that if you don’t vote – shut up for the next 2-4 years! I do believe that an abstention is a legitimate vote. However, to abstain, you must go to your polling place, sign in, and walk into the booth. You can leave everything blank. Or maybe just vote “Yes” on that library referendum and leave the — I’ll admit — sometimes sickening choices at Senate and House blank. Your choice. And isn’t that great!

If I Ran for PresidentIf I Were PresidentAlbert Whitman & Company publishes a couple of election related picture books: If I Ran for President, by Catherine Stier, illustrated by Lynne Avril; and If I Were President both by Catherine Stier, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan.

1 Comments on Hot Topics: Vote!, last added: 11/2/2010
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10. Why Bad News for Dems in 2010 Could be Good News for the President

Elvin Lim is Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and author of The Anti-intellectual Presidency, which draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents’ ability to communicate with the public. He also blogs at www.elvinlim.com. In the article below he looks at Congress. See Lim’s previous OUPblogs here.

On this Presidents Day, it would appear that everyone but the President’s rivals for public affection are doing well in the polls.

Hillary Clinton has shed the image that she is a soft liberal and she is well poised to say, “I told you so,” about her erstwhile charge that Barack Obama lacks experience and fortitude. Even Dick Cheney is doing well, with the public behind him and against civilian trials for terrorist suspects. And we just found out that Evan Bayh is bowing out, probably to escape the anti-incumbency wave on the horizon even though recent polls put him 20 points ahead of his competitors. Given that Bayh left his party less than a week to scramble to collect 4,500 signatures for a viable candidate for his Senate seat, he appears to be setting himself up for a future run as a centrist Democrat who stands up to party apparatchiks. (And here’s another clue: “I am an executive at heart,” Bayh told reporters on Monday.)

The only people doing worse than Obama are Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic Congress as a whole. As Evan Bayh put it, “I do not love Congress.” The atmosphere now in Washington is toxic and the poison is leaking down Pennsylvania Avenue and inundating the White House. That is why I am wondering if White House strategists are secretly hoping to lose Democratic control of Congress this year.

The conventional wisdom is that whatever the President proposes, Congress delivers. But not only has this not happened, the failure of Congress to act collectively to pass legislation (especially on
healthcare reform) has tarnished the name of the Democratic Party of which the President is titular head. As a result of the seeming asset of unified Democratic control of all branches of government, Barack Obama could not do what Reagan did when he too suffered from bad poll numbers in his first years in office as a result of recession – blame the other branch. The American people love to hate Congress, and unified Democratic control of all the elected federal branches has merely reinforced the Americans’ instinctive fear of consolidated power as the Tea Party Movement most viscerally represents. The American Presidency thrives on blame avoidance and freedom from party ties, not single-party government.

Because Washington moves so slowly no matter who is in power and when it does it invariably creates a program so sullied with pork-barrel compromises, it is often better to be able to blame someone else for failing to deliver than to have delivered anything at all. Lyndon Johnson doesn’t get high marks from historians for creating Medicare. And FDR’s fame did not come from the Social Security Act. If we do not judge presidential success by legislative achievements, then presidents are better off when they act unilaterally against a recalcitrant Congress. Better still if this Congress is controlled by another party because presidential unilateralism can be executed without dilemma. Barack Obama would then be free to descend from the law professor’s lectern, as Sarah Palin put it, and move, as Publius recommended, wi

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11. On The Disrupted Sequence of Health-Care Reform

Elvin Lim is Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and author of The Anti-intellectual Presidency, which draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents’ ability to communicate with the public. He also blogs at www.elvinlim.com. In the article below he looks at the health-care reform bill that the House passed. See his previous OUPblogs here.

Democrats must be thinking: what happened to the halcyon days of 2008? It is almost difficult to believe that after the string of Democratic electoral victories in 2006 and 2008, the vast momentum for progressive “change” has fizzled out to a mere five vote margin over one of the most major campaign issues of 2008, a health-care bill passed in the House this weekend. If you raise hopes, you get votes; but if you dash hopes you lose votes. That’s the karma of elections, and we saw it move last Tuesday.

Democratic Party leaders scrambled, in response, to keep the momentum of “Yes, we can” going, by passing a health-care reform bill in the House this weekend. But despite claims of victory, Democratic party leaders probably wished that their first victory on the health-care reform road came from the Senate and not from the House. President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have always hoped to let the Senate pass its health-care reform bill first, initiating a bandwagon effect so that passage in the House would follow quickly and more easily, and a final bill could be delivered to the president’s desk.

Instead, the order of bill passage has been reversed, making a final bill less likely than if things had gone according to plan. If even the House, which is not subject to supermajority decision-making rules, barely squeaked by with a 220-215 vote, then it has now set the upper limit of what health-care reform will ultimately look like. Potentially dissenting Democratic Senators see this, and there might now be a reverse band-wagoning effect. Already, we are hearing talk from the Senate about the timeline for a final bill possibly being pushed past Christmas into 2010. This is just what Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama were hoping against, by pushing the Senate to pass a bill first. Unfortunately for them, the Senate took so long that to keep the momentum going (and amidst the electoral losses in NJ and VA last week), they felt compelled to pass something in the House to signal a token show of progress.

But the danger is that the move to regain control may initiate a further loss of control. The less than plenary “victory” in the House bill has only made it clearer than ever that if a final bill is to find its way to the President’s desk, it will have to be relieved of its more ambitiously liberal bells and whistles. Even though the House Bill, estimated at a trillion dollars, is more expensive than the Senate version being considered, and it has added controversial tax provisions for wealthier Americans earning more than $500,000, what the House passed was already a compromise to Blue Dogs. On Friday night, a block of Democratic members of Congress threatened to withhold their support unless House leaders agreed to take up an amendment preventing anyone who gets a government tax credit to buy insurance from enrolling in a plan that covers abortion. If even the House had to cave in some, there will have to be many more compromises to be made in the Senate, especially on the “public option.”

Sequencing matters in drama as it does in politics. It is at the heart of the Obama narrative, the soul and animating force behind the (now unraveling) Democratic majority in 2009. “Yes, we can” generates and benefits from a self-reinforcing bandwagon effect that begins with a whisper of audacious hope. From the State House of Illinois to the US Senate, from Iowa to Virginia – the story of Barack Obama is a narrative of crescendo. “They said this day would never come” is a story of improbable beginnings and spectacular conclusions. The structural underpinnings of the Obama narrative are now straining under the pressure of events. To regain control of events, the President must first regain control of his story.

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12. Poetry Friday: Folloween

Yesterday at Booklights I talked about monster books that are perfect for Halloween but aren't shelved in the holiday section of your library if, say, you were supposed to get a book for reading to your child's class and somehow put it off until the last minute and then realized that the only thing you had in the house was Clifford's Halloween and you were not using that because okay, he's a BIG dog and you so get it already and there has to be something better and there totally was except all the moms who were doing their job correctly made it to the library when they should have and left the shelves empty except for one beat-up copy of Clifford's Halloween which would make you scream, but with a deep breath you remember the monster books at Booklights - with some additional suggestions in the comments from Abby (the) Librarian - so you can pick out something very appropriate and fun for the kids.

In that post, I mentioned the two poetry books of Adam Rex, Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Frankenstein Takes the Cake. Amazing, funny, brilliant, books with incredible artistry. A better blogger would now spend some time reviewing one or the other of them, but I expended all of my energy on that run-on sentence above. So instead you'll get a poem. And not even the whole poem, because now I'm getting freaked out by the legality of that. Plus the whole poem really needs the illustrations to make it work to its full potential. But in any case, here is the beginning and you can get the book to see how Girl Scouts fit in.


No ghosts are seen on Halloween,
except for kids in sheets.
No zombies ring for anything
apart from tricks or treats.
Though people say
today's the day
when bogeymen
come out to play,
November first is when the worst
of monsters hit the streets.

And in disguise the dead arise
to sell us magazines.
In ties and slacks
they hand out tracts
as fine, upstanding teens.
Before I got to the second part of the poem, I was absolutely certain that he was going to talk about election campaigners. I don't know how it's been in other parts of the country, but in Virginia the election is huge with the Republican candidate for governor leading by double digits in a state that went blue in 2008. I've been getting tons of calls and campaigners coming by and flyers at every local event. Obama even came to a rally in Norfolk, but a little late I think. The only thing that could really help the Democrats now is if people take the new health care legislation seriously and don't want Virginia to opt out of a public health care choice. In any case, they'll have to campaign without me on Folloween because I need this weekend to catch up on things I let go for the last two months.

I also need time to prepare - possibly - for National Novel Writing Month. I've never been interested before, but I do have a book in my head and maybe this is the time to let it out. I don't know. Is it crazy to go from being consumed by KidlitCon to committing to writing a novel in a month? Are you doing it this year? If you did it before, was it worth the pressure?

Oh, Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jennie at Biblio File. Happy Halloween everyone!

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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13. On Iran

Elvin Lim is Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and author of The Anti-intellectual Presidency, which draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents’ ability to communicate with the public. He also blogs at www.elvinlim.com. In the article below he looks at the election in Iran. Read his previous OUPblogs here.

Let me be the first to admit that I don’t know if the recent Iranian “election” was fraudulent, but the faith some pundits have placed on the “evidence” for their conviction that it was gives me pause.

The elections certainly weren’t free and fair, not least because the regime had hand-picked the slate of candidates, but we are unlikely to ever know that straight-up fraud was involved or if voting irregularities were of a higher frequency than those we have routinely taken for granted even in this country. Our failure to contemplate even the possibility that many a dictator has been democratically elected is a dangerous democratic hubris that has shaped and sometimes thwarted our foreign policy.

I am not asserting that the Iranian election was definitely legitimate, only that it is at least remotely possible that it was. At least two independent pollsters agree, and have offered the illuminating factoid from their poll that the only demographic group that found Hossein Mousavi leading Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were graduates and those with high-incomes. (That is to say, they are people most likely to resemble western spectators still staring at the final vote tally in disbelief.) Yet Christopher Hitchens would have none of it and Steve Clemons has decided that there will be blood. But is the blood that Clemons not implausibly predicts will ensue the result of the subversion of democracy in the Iranian electoral process or its success?

Shutting down the media may be egregiously non-democratic, but it is different than creating ballots out of thin air. The reason why this distinction matters is that we must learn to contemplate why millions of people around the world would want to rally behind fanatical leaders who hold such spectacularly repugnant positions as denying the holocaust. This has happened so many times before that it makes our failure to accept its possibility even more revealing of the depth and scope of our mind-block: consider the cases of Gamal Nasser (Egypt), Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Jerry Rawlings (Ghana), Slobodan Milošević (Serbia), and now, possibly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Democracy is messy, and it is not naturally or dialectically inclined towards human rights, western liberal ideals, or the best candidate according to our standards. Neo-conservatives in America positing that the Iraqi people would welcome our troops as liberators back in 2003 have had to learn the hard way the costs of believing what they wanted to believe. In an analagous way, today’s pundits have been so quick to assert that the Iranian people in their post-election riots have exposed the charade of their recent “elections,” but maybe it is democracy itself that has outwitted the pundits. To understand the unpredictable and poigant path of democracy and democratization in the world, those of us who believe in democracy must urgently and honestly contemplate the number of times we have been hoisted by our own petard.

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14. Obama and EPA libraries

In October, Obama sent out letters to a few US Agencies addressing concerns and issues that the President of the American Federation of Government Employees (John Cage) had inquired about. Concerning the letter to the EPA, Obama states:

I strongly oppose attempts by the Bush Administration to thwart publication of EPA researchers’ scientific findings, as well as the attempt to eliminate the agency’s library system. In an Obama Administration, the principle of scientific integrity will be an absolute, and I will never sanction any attempt to subvert the work of scientists.

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15. go vote

Sexy Librarians for Obama

I voted. I feel that only one candidate shares my values of intellectual freedom and privacy and the importance of public institutions like libraries. If you’re not against that sort of thing, please go vote today. Thank you.

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16. Puppets

I just love puppets.

From the Lion Brand Yarn newsletter:

Hold Your Own Debate
With Presidential Finger Puppets

These are serious times and we have a serious choice to make, but that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun! Who do yarn lovers choose for president? Tell us who your presidential pick is and we'll publish the results! Click here to vote!

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17. Digital Wish List: Week 2

This week’s episode of Spark on the CBC gives an interview with Ron Deibert who runs the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto. His digital wishlist for the Canadian election is available as a video and can be summarized in three excellent points:

  1. An elected government should ensure net neutrality
  2. An elected government should protect the Internet internationally to ensure free, unfettered access to information in all countries
  3. An elected government should support technological innovations that have goals other than those of making money (or those that follow the market rationale). For example, technological innovations that can support human rights.

Ron Deibert says that the Internet is a shared global communication medium but it’s being “carved up, colonized, and militarized” and an elected government in Canada should do all it can to stop this.

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18. Ballots for Belva

How timely is this?

Hillary wasn't first. Nor was Ferraro. Have you heard of Belva Lockwood? I had not either before reading this fabulous picture book biography.

Belva once read that a person could move mountains if he or she only had faith. Belva believed this wholeheartedly, and lived her life accordingly. Belva was born in Niagara County, New York in the year 1830. She was the daughter of a farmer, and by the time she was a 39 she had already been married, had a child, been widowed, become a teacher and gotten involved in the suffrage movement. She decided that she wanted to attend law school. In 1869, however, not many law schools wanted to admit women, and the few that did certainly did not want to grant degrees to the women who attended. If you've figured anything out about Belva by now, you know that she found a way to get her deserved degree, and to have it signed by President Ulysses S. Grant to boot!

What could be next for Belva?

After becoming the first woman to graduate from the National University Law School, she became the first woman to practice law in the federal courts. She was the first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court. She rode her tricycle around Washington D.C. oblivious to the stares from those around her. And then in 1884, Belva became the first woman to officially run for president.

Before the ratification of the vote, Belva ran for president! And she got votes. Votes from men. 4711 to be exact. She got more votes than that, but they were thrown out, since the men doing the counting could not believe that anyone would actually vote for a woman.

I found this story not only timely, but incredibly inspiring as well. An author's note, glossary and timeline are included, which make this ripe for classroom use. Do today's kids know that the vote was taken away from women in 1787 (1807 in the case of NJ)? Author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen has done a great job of writing a readable storyline filled with, but not laden down by, facts surrounding suffrage and the political process. Courtney A. Martin's illustrations reflect the time period, though I do wish that the cat accompanying Belva everywhere was explained! This is a book that deserves a prominent place in classroom and library alike!

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19. Printz Committee

If you're a member of YALSA, you have your ballot by now; please vote for me for the Printz Committee! My answers to questions to the candidate (basically, so, why should I vote for YOU?) are over to the YALSA Blog.

2 Comments on Printz Committee, last added: 3/18/2007
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20. Thank You

I would like to send out a big THANK YOU to all YALSA members. The results of the 2007 election are in, and -- drum roll, please -- I am a member of the Michael L. Printz Committee!! This is the Committee that will select the 2009 winner, so I don't start reading until 2008.

Congratulations to all; but a special shout-out to my fellow New Jersey librarians, Sarah Cornish Debraski who is Vice President/ President Elect, and new Margaret A. Edwards Committee member Sharon Rawlins.

Links: YALSA Blog

I cannot find the ALSC election results, but will edit and post once I do.

The ALSC Election results. Once again, congratulations to all, with a special shout out to Ed Spicer, (09 Caldecott Committee) and to NJ librarian Carol K. Phillips (09 Sibert Committee Chair.)

29 Comments on Thank You, last added: 5/7/2007
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21. 152. A Word from our Election Commission

Greg Sablan sent me this with a request to post on the blog. So here goes.

The Commonwealth Election Commission has received reports that there are individuals informing our citizens and registered voters that a “yes” vote means “no” for some of the questions on the November 3, 2007 general election ballot.

There are seven (7) questions for Rota and for Saipan and the Islands North of Saipan, and six (6) for Tinian and Aguiguan, that require a yes or no vote. The questions are all found on the right-hand side of the ballot and they are for the four (4) judicial retention questions and the two (2) House Legislative Initiatives and the Saipan Casino Act for Saipan and the Islands North of Saipan and the Rota Casino Act of 2007 for Rota.

For the record, a “yes” vote means that a voter is approving the question, whether it is for the initiative or for the retention of the judicial officers. A “no” vote is a vote in opposition, a disapproval, of the question.

Thus, if a voter votes “yes” on the Saipan Casino Act, for example, that voter is voting to approve the initiative. A “no” vote means the voter is not in support of the initiative.

The same goes for all the questions on the right-hand side of the general election ballot.

Anyone having more information about this issue is asked to please report the matter to the Office of the Attorney General, the Public Auditor or to the Commonwealth Election Commission.

Sincerely yours,


Executive Director



Whoever is spreading the nonsense (about a yes vote meaning no) must not think our CNMI voters are very smart. Or else they're just desperate. I trust that most (all?) blog readers already know this, but just in case, or in case you find someone else asking about this, you can say you've read the official answer--yes means yes and no means no--and give a straight answer (without thinking it's a joke).

4 Comments on 152. A Word from our Election Commission, last added: 10/29/2007
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22. 157. Election Results

You can get the election results here. I'm just glad the Saipan Casino Act went down in flames.

Angelo has a discussion going on about the effect of blogs on the vote. I'm sure others are licking their wounds or celebrating in style.

As for me, I'm enjoying the relaxed post-election atmosphere. The tension from the uncertainty has drained away. Good or bad, whether you like the results or not, we now know what we'll be living with for the next few years.

I personally was surprised that so many incumbents won re-election. And I would like to hear what others think is the reason?

Do we not blame them for the present predicament? Are we still having candidates win based on family size? Are the incumbents who won somehow perceived as different than the others? What's up?

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23. ALA Elections

Please, renew your ALA memberships, including your YALSA memberships, because if you don't, they you cannot vote. And remember: you do not have to be a librarian to be a member.

The slate of people running for all offices and committees is up at the YALSA Blog.

Last year, you may recall I was a Printz candidate, and won! Which means starting soon I will be reading my little heart out (my reading is for 08 titles for the 09 Printz.) Which probably explains why I've taken a bit of a book break these past few weeks.

Anyhow, enough me. Check out the Printz slate: Carlie Webber is running!!! (Yes, they use her full first name, Carlisle, and have not corrected the typo on her last name. Sigh.)

Carlie is a contributor at Pop Goes the Library, originator of the awesome idea of the Supernatural stars on a READ Poster. She is also the Teen Coordinator for BCCLS (Bergen County Cooperative Library System), which runs a mock Printz every year. More info on Carlie can be found at her blog.

For Tea Cozy readers, here are the important things to know:

Carlie is the source of the most awesome "the plural of anecdotes is not evidence."

Carlie is a book goddess. She knows her stuff, and is very good at recognizing quality stuff.

Carlie is going to be a guest blogger here! I know! I've been trying to figure out how to get more reviews up, especially as my time is getting limited with other commitments, so Carlie said she'd help Tea Cozy out!

So, make sure your YALSA membership is up to date so when elections open, you can say "yes" to Carlie (you get to vote for 4 people, 8 are running.)

1 Comments on ALA Elections, last added: 11/12/2007
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24. Living in the Library

Andy sent me this quirk from the Chronicle, "Who Needs a Dorm During Finals?"
The holidays push everyone to do quirky things. Especially students. And even me. I have been obsessively tracking the status on the Christmas cards we are sending out this year. (They have not yet arrived at our house, where I can then redistribute.)

Perhaps it is because we've never actually sent Christmas cards before. And the ones we're receiving from friends with 4+ kids BEFORE Christmas are stacking up. No longer do I feel justified in saying "but we have a new baby, and I'm back to work, and we've had 16" of snow, and I have been busy sussing out the Presidential candidates for the rest of the nation..."

No, it may just be that the holidays drive us to it. Maybe it's the prospect of being reckoned and coming up short--whether it be your final exam grades, your year-end budget review or simply the perfect Christmas gift. We all wish for perfection in ourselves, I think, and sometimes this quest takes us to interesting places.

Like the library. While you celebrate this year, take a moment to remember your salad days, your youth and do something quirky. Just for me.

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25. 186. Select a Candidate (for US President)

Click on the post title to go to a quick quiz about your political views and which candidate you match up with. (Or click here .)

Hillary Clinton got first billing for me,
with Obama a fairly close 2nd--but he tied with Gravel? whom I'd never heard of. (Okay, I confess, I'm not much of a political junkie.)

Interesting questions. As always, the choices are limited.

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