DOPA – Write your Senator

Techcrunch summarizes DOPA in more detail.

DOPA (Deleting Online Predators Act – House Resolution 5319) passed the House today. Not only did it pass, but it passed by a 410-15 margin.

This act would require all libraries and schools to block myspace and any other site that:

-Is offered by a commercial entity
-Permits registered users to create an on-line profile that includes detailed personal information
-Permits registered users to create an on-line journal and share such a journal with other users
-Elicits highly-personalized information from users
-Enables communication among users.

Depending on how you read that list, it could even indicate blocking sites like Amazon or Ebay.

I rarely get very political, but please call or write your Senator before the Senate goes to vote. You can find contact information for them here.

Also, Jessamyn points to a whole bunch of other commentaries, all better written and reasoned than I could do.

Review: Nintendo DS Lite

IMG_0674Today I treated myself to a Nintendo DS Lite. I’ve been a huge fan of the DS ever since I picked one up last September, and still highly recommend it. But the new DS Lite is even better!

I have the two units side by side here. The DS Lite is on the left, and the older standard DS on the right. Note how the Lite nearly blinds my camera. That’s the major feature improvement – a much brighter screen. You can even play it in direct sunlight, something the original DS could never handle. I never thought the original’s screen was bad, but the colors really pop out at you on the improved version. I don’t think I could go back. The battery life is also extended, overall size is decreased, and the whole design is much more stylish (it looks quite at home next to my iPod).

Nintendo even went out of their way to make wirelessly transfering your online gaming settings from the old DS to the new one a snap.

I don’t have a lot to say about the system that I didn’t the first time around, but I still really like it 🙂

The DS Lite does have one minor disadvantage: Due to its smaller size, Large older Game Boy cartridges like Warioware: Twisted look more than slightly ridiculous hanging out the bottom.

Review: “Lisey’s Story”, by Stephen King

Lisey’s Story

Rating: 5 out of 5

Author: Stephen King

Year: 2006

Publisher: Scribner

ISBN: 0743289412

Stephen King’s next novel, “Lisey’s Story”, will be published in October. I was lucky enough to pick up an advance reader’s copy at ALA, so here’s my first ever preprint review.

I should preface my thoughts by saying that I’m not a huge devotee of King’s books. I’ve read a few and liked them, but haven’t experienced enough to say how Lisey’s Story stacks up against his other work. All I can say is that I liked this one.

Lisey Landon is the widow of Scott Landon, an extremely successful novelist. Scott died two years ago, but Lisey is still grieving. As she starts cleaning out his study, repressed memories surface. The plot gets really complicated from there, so I’m going to quote the back cover: “Later, she understood that there was a place Scott went – a place that both terrified and healed him, could eat him alive or give him the ideas he needed in order to live. Now it’s Lisey’s turn to face Scott’s demons, Lisey’s turn to go to Boo’ya Moon.”

But there’s more to it than that. Lisey has to fend of dangerously unhinged academics who want access to Scott’s archives. Meanwhile her sister’s mental problems worsen and demand much of her time. I know none of this is a good summary, but Lisey’s Story is just a book I can’t figure out how to sum up well. It’s just over 500 pages of multiple complicated, interweaving plots.

Much of the story is told through flashbacks to defining moments of the Landon marriage, as well as Scott’s disturbing childhood. I really felt like I got to know Scott and Lisey as real people. The have the little quirks that define real life – nonsense words made up between them that slip into casual conversation, not always taking the rational route to solve a problem, etc. Their love and marriage is real, and King does a great job conveying it. At times I started to wonder if the book is semi-autobiographical; Scott’s books are mostly deep and thoughtful, but his greatest commercial success is the one horror book he almost accidentally wrote. A pool in his alternate world also fuels Scott’s writing process, and King talks about it as a concept that really exists a bit in a closing statement.

But it isn’t all a romance or treatise on writing. There’s some very dark fantasy thrown in, involving another world that Scott could visit at will. Somehow King ties it all back into Lisey’s grieving process, which really is the central point of the book.

The writing style is a bit different than what I’m used to, but it works. Lisey’s chapters in the present day are written in the past tense, but flashbacks switch over to present tense. It’s jarring at first, and takes some time to get used to. But after I adapted the tense change really helped to tell at a moment’s glance whether a block of text is set in the past.

I feel like I’m not writing a very good review here. I’ve gone back over it and tried to make things more sensical, but I can’t find a way. In the end I can mostly just say that I liked it, and I enjoyed getting to know Scott and Lisey.

The cover of my copy has “NOT FOR SALE” in large letters, and a lengthy letter which politely asks readers to not sell the advance copy on eBay. Here’s a picture. Unfortunately, a quick search shows that a number have been sold anyway. I would feel really guilty selling mine, but also have no particular reason to hold on to it – my shelves already sag, and this book’s light paper cover won’t hold up to a lot of wear. Like any librarian, I hate to throw a book out. So, do you want it? I’ll give preference to Huntsville locals to avoid the hassle of shipping, and next to people I’ve actually met. I only ask that you promise not to sell the book yourself, and chip in for shipping. Send me an e-mail or get in touch some other way if you’re interested.

Still here

I’m finally back from a whirlwind two weeks of travel, during which I visited: New Orleans, Nashville, Atlanta, Rochester, Pittsburgh, and the Thousand Islands area. Atlanta was not an intended destination, but thanks to Delta’s atrocious customer service I got to spend the night. That’s a horror story for another time. Needless to say I’m exhausted, but it was more than worth the craziness to see so many family members and friends.

I’m suffering from information overload now that I have time to sit down and see all that I missed. My list of RSS feeds has never been quite so intimidating.

I had an interesting experience at a gas station in rural Pennsylvania. There I got to use the RFID chip embedded in my new debit card for the first time. While seamless (just wave the card, no button pushing necessary at all), the process makes me a bit nervous. Something about removing the safeguard of a PIN feels wrong, and I’m placing a lot of faith in my bank’s ability to make my chip uncopyable. This wouldn’t bother me in, say, a library card. But in a card so closely tied to my financial identity, it’s another matter entirely.

An interesting note: The WordPress plugin I use to display what I’m currently reading on my site (Now Reading) can’t handle books that aren’t published yet, so I’ve disabled it for the moment. If anyone is interested, I’m currently in the middle of Stephen King’s upcoming Lisey’s Story, which I grabbed a preprint of at ALA.