Monthly Archives: August 2010

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Gulf Oil Spill: Rick Steiner Got BP Disaster Right From The Beginning, Warns Crisis Is Far From Over.

Posted in Dan Froomkin, Energy | Leave a comment

Too True to Be Funny

The Glenn Beck Conspiracy Theory Generator is, I think, supposed to be a joke. But it's hard to tell.

(spotted via Needlenose)

Posted in Politics: Tinfoil | 1 Comment

MDPLS Puts the Wow Back in the Wowbrary

I really love dealing with the people at the Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS). They're so nice. (Maybe it's something about librarians. Our librarians at UM Law are also very nice. Then again the ones over in the main University library don't seem, based on my rather small sample, to be nearly as nice. But I digress.)

Here's yesterday's story.

For some time I have been a happy user of the Wowbrary. This free service gets information from libraries around the country, including MDPLS, about their new acquisitions and serves it up to readers (by subject area of interest) in the form of a tidy weekly RSS feed.

I read this feed in my feed reader, and pick out the books that sound good. I click the link in the feed for “borrow” and this (after a required MDPLS login) takes me to the MDPLS catalog page for the new book. Often these show as belonging to “collection development” or in cataloging or something, and it can take a few weeks before the book actually turns up in my local library but that is not a problem: as my request is in the system, I can set it and forget it until the book turns up. (The MDPLS online catalog allows users to request that books be delivered to their local branch regardless of where the copy may be held.)

This worked great for at least the last year and half (see Wow! MDPLS Does Wowbrary). That is, it worked until this week. All of a sudden, when I clicked through to a record for a book (I wanted Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks), everything looked the same — but it wasn't. I could click 'place a request', followed by 'submit request' just like I used to, but then instead of putting the request into the queue…it rejected me with the message,

Requests are not permitted for this title. Contact the library for assistance.

And it wasn't something special about the Culture. I tried several titles and they all produced the same result.

I was sad. It seemed that the MDPLS had instituted a landrush policy. Now I would need a way to keep track of which books were due to come in, and keep trying to reserve them until they become available at some random and unforeseeable time. Record-keeping. Work. Frustration. Loss of my place at the head of the queue for desirable new books. (There can be a high cost to being late to the party: A few months ago I put in a request for one of the multiple copies of “The girl who kicked the hornet's nest” and now I'm number 174 of 568 waiting for it.)

But then I had an idea. Why not call the folks at MDPLS and ask them to put it back the way it had been. Maybe this wasn't a policy change but just a glitch. And so, late yesterday morning, I did just that. In short order I was put through to a Ms. Lewis, who listened to my whole sad tale. At first she seemed a bit puzzled. Was this program something I paid for? No. Was I reserving the books through the Wowbrary itself? No. Was the error message maybe from outside the MDPLS system? No. Eventually Ms. Lewis asked me to write it all up and email to her so that she could pass the whole thing on to the right technical people. Which I did.

And about four hours later, Ms. Lewis called me back to ask me to test whether it was fixed. And it was.

Not only that, but now it's better than it used to be. With the old MDPLS cataloguing system, I used to have to do a new logon for each book, even in a single browsing session, which was something you didn't have to do with multiple requests within the MDPLS system. Now even when I make multiple Wowbrary-originating requests in a single session, I only have to log in the first time!

The most amazing part of this story to me is that Ms. Lewis thanked me for reporting the problem.

And she said she's signing up for the Wowbrary herself.

Meanwhile, Jeff Levinsky of the Wowbrary tells me that they've served up information on 48,041 new titles at the Miami-Dade library since the wowbrary began covering it a few years ago

Please don't tell anyone. I don't need the competition for the new books.

(Now do you suppose I can get the MDPLS to fix the Search Plugin? It's broken, and the folks at don't seem to be updating their to-do list.)

Earlier posts:

Posted in Miami | Leave a comment

Joe Garcia Hits the Ground Running

Wasting no time after winning the Democratic primary, Congressional Candidate Joe Garcia (FL-25) put out a YouTube video about his Republican opponent with the arresting title David Rivera Breaks His Promise to God:

How do you top that?

Posted in Politics: FL-25/FL-27 | 4 Comments

Election Update

Scott did win. Amazing.

Judge Newman pulled it out, ending up with 53% of the vote, but Judge Seff didn't come close, only getting 43%.

Otherwise, it doesn't look like anything major changed overnight. (Earlier post: So How Did We Do?.)

Posted in Politics: 2010 Election | 2 Comments

So How Did We Do?

Sink, check; Meek, check and bigtime (over weird and unsavory billionaire Jeff Greene); Gelber, check.

(The ones I voted for are in bold.)

Locally, with about 2/3 of the precincts reporting…

Circuit Judges – Group 45: Samantha Ruiz Cohen coasted to victory over incumbent Judge Peter Adrien. This is good.

Circuit Judges: – Group 62: Robert Kuntz seems to be losing big to Monica Gordo; a shame, I think, but not a problem.

County Judges – Group 7: Incumbent Judge Edward Newman (50.6% at this moment, but it's varied) neck and neck with Manuel 'Manny' Alvarez.

County Judges – Group 11: Incumbent Judge Flora Seff seems to have lost to the relatively unqualified but Hispanically-named Michaelle Gonzalez-Paulson. I don't think this is good, both because the incumbent didn't deserve to lose and because this (and perhaps the Newman race above, although that is more complex) tends to support the widespread and not-unreasonable belief that a lot of uninformed voters just vote for the judge with a Hispanic name.

School Board District 6: Dr. Kitchka Petrova never had a chance. The only question was how big a margin Raquelita Regaldo would win by. In the last days before the election, her campaign sent me a box with an apple in it containing a note saying “For the apple of your eyes and mine, we must salvage our public education”. The next day it was a small (mini-golf size) pencil and a sharpener (“Salvaging our Public Education from Financial Disaster Require that We Sharpen Our Pencils and Get Back to Basics!”) Education, teachers, apples and pencils, get it? So far the margin is overwhelming, pushing 60% of the total vote. Name recognition and a huge financial advantage.

Charter Amendment Eliminating the Office of County Manager: I supported NO, but suspected Yes would win — voters liking the sound of eliminating a government job. So far Yes is winning 60-40, so I think that's the outcome. Pity.

Home Rule Charter Amendment Authorizing County Commission to Abolish Municipalities of Twenty or Fewer Electors: Everyone was for YES. Winning but only 64-36.

Home Rule Charter Amendment Relating to Franchises: I supported NO, feared Yes would win, but NO is winning 67-32.

The other races I was watching were:

  • The Republican gubernatorial slugfest: boring apparatchik Bill McCollum v. crazy dangerous mega-millionaire Rick Scott: with 72% of the votes counted, Scott is ahead 47-43. Wow.
  • The Republican primary in FL-25 — how big would the inroads from Republicans nervous about David Rivera be in what seemed his certain majority; and the answer is — only a little, as Rivera has 63% to Crespo's 26% with 55% of the precincts reporting.
  • The Democratic primary in FL-25 — how big would Joe Garcia's margin of victory be? So far looks about 3:1.
  • The County Commission race in District 8, very near where I live, in which Annette Taddeo was a candidate in a crowded field with some good candidates: so far it's Finn in the lead with Bell the other candidate likely in the runoff. Although Taddeo is only 300 votes behind Bell, that's a lot given light turnout.

I'll update this in the morning if the final totals change anything. The closest races are the GOP primary for Governor, and the nail-biter for County Judges – Group 7

Posted in Politics: 2010 Election | Leave a comment

Your Vote Card

The lower part of Miami-Dade ballot contains non-partisan races that often don't get the attention they deserve. Here are some recommendations on how to vote:

Circuit Judges – Group 45: Samantha Ruiz Cohen

Circuit Judges: – Group 62: Robert Kuntz

County Judges – Group 7: Edward Newman

County Judges – Group 11: Flora Seff

School Board District 6: Dr. Kitchka Petrova

Charter Amendment Eliminating the Office of County Manager: NO

Home Rule Charter Amendment Authorizing County Commission to Abolish Municipalities of Twenty or Fewer Electors: YES

Home Rule Charter Amendment Relating to Franchises: NO

Explanations for these suggestions will be found in these five blog posts:

Part I: Introduction
Part II: Circuit Judges
Part III: County Judges
Part IV: School Board, District 6
Part V: Miami-Dade County Charter Amendments

[UPDATE: forgot to mention the obvious — today is election day for these races!]

Posted in Politics: 2010 Election | Leave a comment