Dr. Drew's Infrequent Blog

15 October 2005

Reading Blogs, Reading Basbanes, Podcasts, Shortwave Memories & Other Ramblings

Every once in a while I enjoy checking out my students’ blogs. It is interesting to read their thoughts – at least many of them. They often contain much more honest reflections about classes, texts, their library experiences, and the like. It helps me to think about how they see the world. I thought it was only fair then if I finally update my aptly named Infrequent Blog. I still won’t update often. I would much rather read books or articles. I also should be using this time to write more professional items.

Yesterday, Noriko and I met Dr. Knuth at the Ka Palapala Po’okela Awards. It was a very nice book award event put on by the Hawaii Book Publishers Association. Dr. Knuth and I were just appointed to their Academy, which helps select winning titles. It was interesting to compare my own votes with the winners. Sometimes I get anxious at such events, especially when time seems like wasted (such as the long and unnecessary intermission), but it was good to see HBPA folks like Carol Abe, and several librarians and archivists who serve as judges, as well as authors and publishers. It was also good to learn that the HBPA is planning a Hawaii Book and Music Festival on 22-23 April 2006. I hope that our LIS Program can be represented there. It sounds like a fun happening.

I was awake until 4:30 Friday night. I wanted to finish reading Nicholas Basbanes’ forthcoming bestseller, Every Book Its Reader. He kindly gave me a page proof when he was here in Hawaii. It will come out in December. If you’ve never read anything by Basbanes, I still would suggest his first book A Gentle Madness, but it was a very interesting and pleasant discourse on reading and readers. I always his enjoy how he is able to interweave the history of printing with more contemporary adventures in book collecting and reading.

It was a pleasure to see him and his wife, Connie, again. You can really sense their sincerity and wide interests. You can read an interview of sorts that he graciously granted me in the newsletter of our ALA student chapter. The Nick Basbanes was here as the keynote address celebrating the exhibit Treasures of the Library. It truly is a fantastic exhibit, thanks to the expertise of the librarians and curator Tom Klobe, who crafted a visual and literary narrative involving around 400 items from UH’s collections. It will be here until 10 November.

This morning I listened to a podcast of WNYC’s “On the Media.” It is one of my favorite weekly media critiques. Especially interesting this week was coverage of the President’s “spontaneous conversation“ with soldiers in Iraq. It is so frustrating that so many American soldiers and Iraqi civilians are dying as a result of my nation’s policies. A few weeks ago I re-read the wise remarks of John Dower on a then possible future occupation of Iraq. As you may recall Dower is the preeminent American historian of Japan’s American occupation years, and Bush tried to compare the success of Japan’s transformation to the possibilities of unleashing democracy and peace in the Middle East.

If, dear surfer, you are also interested in media reports you might want to check out one of my favorite radio programs. It is the BBC’s “From our own Correspondent.” It is a half-hour weekly series of 3-7 radio essays by correspondents giving more of a personal approach to major stories. I often have critiques of BBC reports, but this program is much more reflective and well constructed. Journalists most often have to report what is happening now, and thus don’t have a chance to reflect. On this program, which is celebrating 50 years, journalists have that chance to reflect on a story. These reflections often show us how stories were framed.

I used to listen to shortwave radio ever since I was in junior high. I could warm up in winter with my father’s old Halicrafters tube set. I later bought my own Yaesu receiver to improve reception. I never got into amateur (ham) radio, which often seemed to be filled with banal conversations “What kind of rig are you using?” and the annoyance of Morse code), but shortwave was really a way to listen in on the world. I enjoyed comparing news events on one day on so many stations all over the world. I also enjoyed the varied music. You can get some of this variety of news online. I still listen to BBC, Radio France Internationale, and Radio Japan online (although the last one is in real need of updating for the Internet).

I still hunger for new music though. I try listening to various podcasts from time to time. I recently came across a French podcast with Tunisian music. Skan’s second program had an excellent piece by Wadji Cherif. Fusion music efforts often fail miserably, but I really enjoyed his synthesis of Tunisian music with jazz. I was so excited, and ordered his album from CD Baby in Oregon.

By the way, if you happen to be here in Hawaii, and like jazz, I am pleased to report that the scene seems to be getting better and better these days. Check out the New Jass Quartet at Hotel 39. They also play at Sam Choy’s on Kapahlu at Saturday evenings. Justin James and the group play standards, but with a lively edge. I might add Congratulations! To Hotel 39, which just celebrated its first birthday.

I don’t like to say much about my personal life online, but everyone around me has notice how happy I am these days now that Noriko is here in Honolulu. She is only on sabbatical until January though. It is extremely frustrating that UH does not have a spousal hire program. She would be an ideal asset to the faculty as she is pioneering new directions in the history of Japanese language instruction, and the Japanese American experience (Issei period). By the way, her book, Teaching Mikadoism, will come out this fall from the University of Hawaii Press. I love teaching here (great students and colleagues) and feel that I could make a contribution here, but it is hard to imagine going back to this distance relationship. Noriko and I recently noticed faculty openings at Temple University Japan. We are debating sending in applications. TUJ was just recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Education, which was a major step forward for foreign universities in Japan. It would be a fascinating experience. I would really hate to leave Manoa though.

I should log off here. Within a month I will do three conference presentations, including one at the Library History Seminar. This conference occurs only every 5 years, so I am greatly looking forward to attending this. I was at the last one at the Library of Congress. This year it will take place at the University of Illinois’ Allerton facility. This weekend I have to finish up an RFP that will set up the mechanism to select next year’s site.


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