Stephen Fry attempts to haunt you by tidying up your house. He lines up and alphabetizes your books, and will leave interesting and informative notes in the margins, because he knows everything. Might change the channel you’re watching from Keeping up with the Kardashians to something more cultured and relevant. Fluffs your towels. Might drink your tea, but you’ll only notice this because he washes his cup every time and leaves it on the drying-rack. All in all, actually a very pleasant presence to have around.
Basically, the deal he made with Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs is this: I’ll let you control the process, write the rules, and move things along at a deliberate pace. In return, you’ll promise not to publicly oppose repeal. The tradeoff is simple: DADT repeal will take a little longer, but it will end up having the support of the military leadership and will therefore be less contentious and more permanent. This is a win for both Obama and the military.
For better or worse, deals like this are just the way politics works. If Obama chose to drop the court case and let DADT be abruptly repealed before the military had its ducks in a row, the Pentagon leadership would probably take it as a personal betrayal by a commander-in-chief who had given his word on how this would all play out. That’s not something a president can afford.
So how in a row do the ducks have to be anyway?
In fairness to Obama, there’s a little bit more than that. (And yes, I added the quotes around “Fighting to Keep DADT”. Obama is “fighting to keep DADT” in the sense that:
Obama is the head of the executive branch.
The Justice Department is part of the executive branch.
The Justice Department is in charge of defending the laws of the U.S. when somebody challenges them.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is one such challenged law.
Obama could probably have directed the Justice Department not to appeal the suit it recently lost without doing anything unprecedented—though it’s not the sort of string-pulling that should be done lightly.
But repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell isn’t the sort of thing that should be done thoughtlessly. Yes, it’s bad policy. Yes, it should be repealed. However, the repeal could go a lot more smoothly if it were coupled with programs to help certain portions of the military come to terms with the existence of people who are gay. The often hyper-masculinity of the military coupled with perceptions of what it means “to be a man” can lead to some bad stuff going down.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is on its way out. I’d give it a one in ten chance of making it out of 2010 without a definite end date. I understand that there’s a high cost in keeping Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell intact. But implementing the repeal in a way that allows support structures for those who will need them is not unreasonable foot-dragging.
A203 – Failcamp 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM Moderator: Amy Buckland, eScholarship, ePublishing & Digitization Coordinator, McGill University Library Krista Godfrey, Liaison Librarian, McMaster University Jan Dawson, Project Coordinator & Virtual Reference Librarian, Ask Ontario Knowledge Ontario Char Booth, E-Learning Librarian, University of California, Berkeley
This interactive session focuses on things that we’ve tried that have failed, and what we’ve learned from the experience. We don’t often discuss our failures in libraryland, and frequently end up repeating the mistakes of our neighbors. Godfrey and Buckland discuss Second Life failures in academic libraries, Dawson talks about the failures of VoIP, and Booth looks at her experiences of using video as a chat reference tool. Bring your stories and share so that our lessons-learned knowledgebase grows!
For more than 150 years, The Atlantic has celebrated the moral and intellectual bravery of leaders who espouse unpopular or controversial positions. In this special report, our second annual, we highlight men and women who embody this great tradition today.
Did you know that libraries provide a lot more than just free books? They have other free materials, of course: DVDs, music CDs, video games, and lots of digital content (ebooks, eaudiobooks, etc). But libraries are a lot more than the free stuff we keep inside them.
Right now, your library is helping someone develop their resume, learn how to use the computer, and find a job. They’re connecting someone to specialized community resources for debt management. They’re helping seniors create their very first email accounts so they can communicate with their grandchildren, and they’re helping those same grandchildren develop a life-long love of reading.
During the course of this day your library will answer hundreds of questions. From the simple query to the complicated research process, your library helps people find information and, more importantly, helps them learn how to find information. And your library is hipper than you might think; they’re not only answering questions in-person and over the phone, they’re answering questions online, too, in live chat sessions, and they’re answering questions sent to them via SMS, via IM, via Facebook and Twitter. Your librarians may even be on social reference sites like Quora, sharing their expertise right under your nose.
A recent article about librarians called them “genuine saints”, because they do all this without ever thinking about profit margins. Librarians help because they’re driven to help, and they’ll never get rich doing it. In fact, many libraries are cutting staff, cutting hours, and cutting away layers of their expertise. Why? Because they aren’t getting your support.
Libraries need your support. They need your vote, your donations, your outspoken acclaim. Librarians need you to stand up and speak for them because they, like many saints, are too humble to speak for themselves.
Libraries don’t put out fires, unless you count the fires of ignorance. They don’t prevent crime, unless you count the crimes of thoughtlessness. They don’t build roads, unless you count a thousand roads to knowledge. Libraries are as important, and as worthy of your tax dollars, as fire departments, police departments, and road maintenance.
If you think the library is great, but just for other people, think again. Your library has a lot of new tricks up its sleeve, and something is bound to appeal. Ask them; they may have ebooks for your Kindle, an app for your iPhone, games for your Xbox, or audiobooks for your commute. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Whatever you do, though, support your local library. Vote for them. Speak up for them. Libraries are amazing, they’re cost-effective, and they’re unique, and if they are allowed to fade away, there will be nothing there to take their place.
“[R]eference librarians are both incredibly well-informed about the infoverse AND incredibly happy to tell you everything they know in order to make you a better researcher. I like that. I like it a lot—they’re not out to make a dime from every transaction, but they’re genuine saints who want nothing more than to teach you how to do the search on your own and make you self-sufficient. You have to admire that in these days of unrelenting grabs for every last surcharge for expertise.”—Daniel M. Russell - SearchReSearch: Why libraries?