Archive for November, 2009

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past week or so, you can’t have failed to notice the launch of Sarah Palin’s new book, “Going Rogue“.  I have read her much anticipated tome and recommend saving your money and borrowing someone else’s copy.  Books by politicians tend to fall into one of two categories—a statement of their political views and/or policies or a memoir of their life and a defense of their actions. “Going Rogue” is a mix of the two, performs badly on both counts, and is ultimately unsatisfying as a result.

That’s a shame because “Going Rogue” had the potential to be a very compelling book. Sarah Palin’s meteoric rise to fame, first as governor of Alaska and then as the first female Republican vice-presidential candidate, captured everyone’s interest and her behind-the-scenes account of the 2008 campaign could have been a rip-roaring good tale. Would a different ghost writer, someone less polemic than Lynn Vincent, been able to coax the story out of her? It’s hard to say.

Likewise, a straight forward account of her conservative principles and her take on politics of the day would have had a smaller, but equally interested audience. Unfortunately, “Going Rogue” mixes a generalized account of her life and career with political screeds and the end result ranges from clashing to completely unbelievable. Are we really supposed to buy, for example, that she urged her daughter Bristol to put off starting a small business until Obama was out of office? Sheesh.

The publication of “Going Rogue” has set off an avalanche of refutations and fact checking.  A list of links follows:

Poltifact factchecks Palin’s book  here

Shushannah Walshe, one of the authors of “Sarah from Alaska”, refutes some of Palin’s claims about the 2008 campaign here

Shannyn Moore offers three of the Alaskans (Anne Kilkenny, John Bitney, and Andrew Halcro) who were bad-mouthed in the book equal time on her show, video segments of which are posted on here on her blog, “Just a Girl from Homer”, and on YouTube. The panel discussion is very civilized. I must say that I’m happy to finally see a group of people who actually understand Alaskan issues and know Mrs. Palin personally talk about this book as opposed to the usual range of vacuous talking heads.

Geoffrey Dunn (Huffington Post columnist) talks here about Anchorage activist Andree McLeod and here about Palin’s former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, also bad-mouthed in the book. Dunn is a regular blogger on the lefty mega-site, the Huffington Post. He also has a book coming out called “The Lies of Sarah Palin” so he obviously has a bias, but the posts are interesting for the counterpoint they provide.

My ratings of other books on or about Sarah Palin:

Avoid “Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down” by Kaylene Johnson. It’s a puff piece.

“Sarah from Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar” by Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, two reporters embedded with the McCain campaign, is an excellent book and an engaging read. The authors are sympathetic to their subject, but not blind to her faults and give an even-handed account of her career and the subsequent fall-out from the 2008 campaign.

To get the bigger picture, I highly recommend “The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election” by Haynes Johnson and Dan Balz. Johnson and Balz had behind the scenes access to all of the players in the 2008 election and give a clear rendering of the major problems with the Clinton and McCain campaigns as well the ups and downs of the Obama campaign. Another very readable and engaging book.


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Here’s a few favorites I’ve been holding back. Friday the 13th seemed an opportune time to share them. Enjoy!


Finally, the truth about Batman ….

Claws Out

I want to get this picture made into a name tag and wear it at work …..

Smokey the Bear

Always wondered what old Smokey was doing out in the woods with a shovel. Now we know. If you should go into the woods today, you better go in disguise ….

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Every now and then you have a little moment that reminds you why you are proud to be a cataloger.

Cataloging is an arcane science.  I like to think of it as a kind of cryptography–you analyze the object in hand and then “code it up” so that people can find it when they do a search.  Mostly that involves putting down the information that is already there, but a really good cataloger takes that extra step and finds the information that isn’t there, but should be.

Today, my assistant, Joann, was cataloging an oral history interview with a woman who, in the parlance of the time, was referred to by her husband’s name–let’s call her “Mrs. John Smith”.  This is an old practice and reflects the thinking that when two people marry, they become one person and that person is the husband (British common law, I believe).

Hoary laws and customs don’t do the modern researcher any good, however, and both Joann and I were keen to find this woman’s first name, but we were batting zero. Finally, I suggested that Joann take a look in the Pioneers of Arnor records.  If the husband was a member, then the membership rolls might name his wife.  As it happens, my guess was on the money and I’m proud to say that  “Ada Jean Smith” was entered as the author and subject of the interview.

In doing this bit of extra digging, we set the historical record straight and gave this woman back her identity. A small thing and no more than our job, but we were glad to do it.

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I’ve been down for the past five days with a nasty sinus infection so I’ve had the opportunity to watch repeated trailers for the disaster flick “2012” while on serious antibiotics. The idea that the world will end in 2012 due to a Mayan prophecy wasn’t as unbelieveable as the idea that the government will have the foresight to build ships for the survivors. Get serious. We are talking the same government that can’t agree on a health care reform or on the best way to regulate Wall Street, but somehow they have an apocalypse preparedness plan? Now that is fiction.

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