Archive for: April, 2017

Friday Fun: Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

Apr 28 2017 Published by under around the web, friday fun, music, music mondays

Like with La La Land a few months back, here we have a jazz-themed documentary that I haven't seen yet but have read an awful lot about.

Unlike La La Land, I actually intend to see Chasing Trane and actually have tickets to see an upcoming showing at a Toronto theatre.

The reviews seem fantastic, with more or less unanimous opinion that the film does justice to Coltrane both as a person and as a musician.

Some of what I've been reading...

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My remarks at the Toronto March for Science

Many thanks to the organizers of this past weekend's March on Science here in Toronto. They invited me to be part of the amazing roster of speakers for the event. I was honoured to take part and offer some of the lessons I've learned in the course of my various listing projects over the last number of years, especially the epic chronology of the Harper years.

There's a nice video summary here and a CTV News report where I'm interviewed here. A couple of additional media stories are here and here and here.

My fellow presenters were Master of Ceremonies Rupinder Brar and speakers Dawn Martin-Hill, Josh Matlow, Tanya Harrison, Chelsea Rochman, Aadita Chaudhury, Eden Hennessey and Cody Looking Horse.

Here's what I had to say:

Hi, my name is John and I’m a librarian. My librarian superpower is making lists, checking them twice and seeing who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. The nice ones are all of you out here marching for science. And the naughty ones are the ones out there that are attacking science and the environment.

Now I’ve been in the list-making business for quite a few years, making an awful lot of lists of how governments have attacked or ignored science. I did a lot of work making lists about the Harper government and their war on science. The nicest thing I’ve ever seen written about my strange little obsession was in The Guardian.

Here’s what they said, in an article titled, How science helped to swing the Canadian election.

“Things got so bad that scientists and their supporters took to the streets. They demonstrated in Ottawa. They formed an organization, Evidence for Democracy, to bring push back on political interference in science. Awareness-raising forums were held at campuses throughout Canada. And the onslaught on science was painstakingly documented, which tends to happen when you go after librarians.”

Yeah, watch out. Don’t go after libraries and librarians. The Harper govt learned its lesson. And we learned a lesson too. And that lesson was that keeping track of things, that painstakingly documenting all the apparently disconnected little bits and pieces of policies here, regulations changed there and a budget snipped somewhere else, it all adds up.

What before had seemed random and disconnected is suddenly a coherent story. All the dots are connected and everybody can see what’s happened. By telling the whole story, by laying it all out there for everyone to see, it’s suddenly easier for all of us to point to the list and to hold the government of the day accountable. That’s the lesson learned from making lists.

Let’s travel back in time to the spring of 2013…..

And as an aside, when I say government of the day, I do mean “of the day.” Back when I started my listing project, I was under no illusion that the previous Chretien/Martin regime was perfect when it came to science. They had their share of budget cuts and muzzling and all the rest.

But back in 2013 what I saw the government doing wasn’t the run of the mill anti-science that we’d seen before. Prime Minister Harper’s long standing stated desire to make Canada a global energy superpower revealed the underlying motivation but it was the endless litany of program cuts, census cancellation, science library closures, regulatory changes and muzzling of government scientists that made up the action plan. But was it really a concerted action plan or was it a disconnected series of small changes that were really no big deal or just a little different from normal?

That’s where making lists comes in handy. If you’re keeping track, then, yeah, you see the plan. You see the mission, you see the goals, you see the strategy, you see the tactics. You see that the government was trying to be sneaky and stealthy and incremental and “normal” but that there was a revolution in the making. An anti-science revolution.

Fast forward to now, April 2017, and what do we see? The same game plan repeated, the same anti-science revolution under way. Only this time not so stealthy. Instead of a steady drip, it’s a fire hose. Message control at the National Parks Service, climate change denial, slashing budgets and shutting down programs at the EPA and other vital agencies. Incompetent agency directors that don’t understand the mission of their agencies or who even want to destroy them completely.

Once again, we are called to document, document, document. Tell the stories, mobilize science supporters and hold the governments accountable at the ballot box. Hey, like the Guardian said, if we did it in Canada, maybe that game plan can be repeated too.

I invited my three government reps here to the march today, Rob Oliphant, Josh Matlow and Eric Hoskins and I invited them to march with me so we could talk about how evidence should inform public policy. Josh, of course, is up here on the podium with me. As for Rob Oliphant from the Federal Liberals and Eric Hoskins from the Ontario Liberals, well, let’s just say they never answered my tweets.

Keep track, tell the story, hold all of them from every party accountable. The lesson we learned here in Canada was that science can be a decisive issue. Real facts can mobilise people to vote against alternative facts.

Thank you.

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My new job: CEO of the United States National Parks Service Library System

You know, I'm the best librarian. Just the best. My collection is huge. The very very best collection. Such a great collection. I love collecting. I'm very good at bibliographic instruction. Nobody does bibliographic instruction like me. Students love it. I can talk for hours. I have long, beautiful book stacks. Look at those book stacks, are they small book stacks? I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee you.

And since I'm the best librarian, my pal The Donald, the President of the United States, has hired me to be the Chief Executive Officer for the National Parks Service Library System.

We all know how much he loves books, right?

Now I know that following my various job changes over the years seems a bit wearying, even for me, especially since I can't seem to stick with anything for more than a year. Every April, like clockwork, there seems to be a new announcement. Whether it's a group blog for revolutionary librarians, Chief Science Librarian for the Canadian Federal Government, launching a new journal, IJUST-CANT or JAPE.

Before making this historic announcement, I definitely wanted to get a management team into place. A better group of people could not be found to make the National Parks Services Library System great again! I am so proud to name my new team!

Chair of the Board: Yevgeny Zamyatin
Associate Director: Winston Smith
Associate Director, Branch Libraries: Aldous Orwell
Head of Collections, Fiction: Emmanuel Goldstein
Head of Collections, Non-Fiction: Julia O'Brien
Head of Reference Services: Offred Atwood

What's JOB ONE you ask? Making our collections great again! To that end, I am directing our Heads of Collections to immediately and with full force to set our collections budget to zero dollars. We will no longer be purchasing any materials for our libraries and will only be relying on our deal-making abilities to fill our shelves with freebies from all the most famous American and foreign authors. You'll love these books. You'll love them like you've never loved a book before.

As of this moment, we will only be stocking books by the following authors:

  • Donald Trump
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Ann Coulter
  • Roger Stone
  • Sean Hannity
  • Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.
  • Michael Savage
  • Bill O'Reilly
  • David Horowitz
  • Glenn Beck (classic books only)
  • Sarah Palin
  • Rush Limbaugh

Effective immediately, anyone who can prove they have read the timeless classic, The Art of the Deal, will be allowed free entrance into any National Park.

All music CDs held by our libraries will be by Ted Nugent. No exceptions. Except for whoever it was that sang at the inauguration. What's-their-names.

I'm still looking for people to appoint as Heads of the various individual branch libraries in the various national parks, although I will personally be based at Badlands National Park and will serve as the head of that library.

As mentioned earlier, we will be removing all books currently in stock and replacing them with new improved ones. Here's a list of all the books we will be removing from our collections.

I'd also like to mention a few more recent books which we will not be acquiring for our collection. Don't read these books. They are fake news books.

As usual, I'm happy for suggestions about what books we should not purchase for our libraries!


Here's a list of my previous blog posts about how Donald Trump is going to make science and libraries great again!

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