Monday, October 29, 2007

I Want an Endowment

Not a line in the state budget.
My university has a pretty good library, with subscriptions to almost all the journals I read, but it doesn’t have everything. (What library does. That’s not my point.)
However, I am a lucky little student, because my university belongs to a nationwide consortium of universities, wherein a student/staff/faculty can get library privileges at little to no cost at the libraries of any of the other universities. It’s sort of like ILL, except I can actually go to the other university’s libraries, even those that are restricted to affiliates of the other university. Why is this special? Well, first, not all journals have print versions anymore, and so ILL won’t do any good. Second, if the university is close enough, I can get to the library sooner than the libraries can get the book/journal to me. Third, libraries don’t necessarily lend out journals. So I took advantage of this deal recently, and visited a private university that’s part of this consortium.
The spaces – I went to three of the libraries – are beautiful. There are maps on the walls of the bigger libraries, explaining where different call numbers are. The libraries were quiet.
They have a library devoted to my field, so almost all the journals are in one place, and are not mixed in with other fields.
The library employees are helpful. As I said, the bigger libraries have maps, and I took advantage of them. Every single time, a not-student-aged woman stopped to ask me if I needed help figuring out where I was going.
And I think all of that has to do with the money.
-At my university, "pretty" takes a back seat to "utile." A very far back seat.
-At my university, the big libraries double as computer labs, so there's a fair amount of chatter from people working on projects or socializing online.
-At my university, there isn't enough money to separate out departments quite as much, even though my department is pretty well-funded.
-At my university, when the budget was slashed, the work didn’t go away with the salary line, and the people left are doing the work of at least two; they don’t have time to stop and ask if someone needs help.
I know endowments aren't everything, but there is something very important about the space in which you work. (For example: I've been working at home, and the mere presence of a window has made such a difference that my work output is orders of magnitude better.) And a line-item in a state budget can't produce that kind of space.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Kate already has grandchildren in the mutation meme, and I haven't even started. (Hah. Look, today she's reminding me us. Er, on Monday. I'm a little behind.) I'm a little afraid of becoming inviable, because every time I hear "best" or "favorite" my mind goes blank. But here goes.

Kate passed this meme on to me. It was started by PZ Myers at Pharyngula as a means of demonstrating evolution in cyberspace.

First, the rules:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...". Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:
  • You can leave them exactly as is.
  • You can delete any one question.
  • You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is..." to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is...", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is...", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is...".
  • You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".
  • You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

My great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Pharyngula.
My great-great-great-great-grandparent is Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
My great-great-great-grandparent is Flying Trilobite.
My great-great-grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock.
My great-grandparent is Primate Diaries.
My grandparent is Thus Spake Zuska.
My parent is Kate.

The best young adult novel in SF/Fantasy is: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

The best scary movie in scientific dystopias is: Until the End of the World

The best sexy song in classic rock music is: Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin (Traditional, but I'm a radio-listening kind of gal.)

The best cult novel in pre-Victorian fiction is: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I agree with Kate on this one.)

The best high-carb food in Polish cooking are pierogi. (Again, traditional -- but have you had them? Mm, mm, mm. Especially with fried onions.)

I am propagating this meme on to:





and anyone else who hasn't been tagged. Let me know if you play!