Rogue One

I haven’t seen Rogue One yet, I’m not one of the people that can stay up until 2 am to see a movie. I start yawning by 9 pm. But I did take the day off work today to see it, or more specifically take the family to see it. I’m excited because it’s new Star Wars and I was the kid that wanted to be a Jedi and because my daughters are excited to see it. They enjoyed the Force Awakens but the story was kind of blah so it didn’t sink in deeply with them. What they did enjoy was seeing a female lead in a Star Wars movie. I remember discussing with them the vitriol that was the response to there being a female lead. With six previous Star Wars movies and only two major female characters there wasn’t a lot of gender balance for a franchise that had a setting where women and men seemed to be of equal footing. Of those two major characters both are largely defined by their relationships to men and both more often than not played the role of “the victim.”

So, yes, Rey was nice to see even if it was in a mediocre film but I accept that it’s main purpose was to setup Episode VIII. Still, let’s not forget that Episode VII was mainly male characters – one storm trooper, one rebel pilot, one smuggler and one Sith-wannabe. I’ll exclude Chewie since he’s not human so he doesn’t count to the gender imbalance this time. But that’s all the other major characters in the film, all male and all have significant screen time. A woman being the lead matters but it wasn’t a female dominated movie. But, from the reactions of many you would think the movie was all women cutting off men’s genitalia with light sabers. (I shouldn’t have gone there, the imagery isn’t kind.)

These are some of the choice comments from the Youtube trailer that I ran into on Tumblr this morning. I’m excluding some variants on “women can’t survive in space” that I think were intentional trolls – otherwise our science education is even worse off than I thought.

“I’m not sexist but Star Wars is about men, men fighting to save the universe. If women can do the same thing then what’s the point? I won’t be seeing this. If you need me I’ll be watching anime.”

Well, where do we start with this shining example of “not sexist”? I’ll address the question of what is the point. The point is to tell a story and if the story doesn’t dictate the gender then we should look at letting everyone be represented. And if the story does dictate a gender we should pick stories that aren’t all about one part of the human race. Please don’t watch anime though, you might be disappointed if you watch enough of it. Yes, there is plenty of fan service and male power fantasy but the biggest movie in Japan this year is anime about male and female body swapping and looking at gender roles.

“Liberal PC Nonsense in Space.”

When did liberal start meaning not sexist? If you want liberal in space read China Mieville’s Embassytown. Now, he’s a pinko commie liberal. And it’s an awesome book. As for being politically correct, let me go on record on saying this is something I’m really bad at. I watch for political correctness because I have a pretty crude sense of humor and while I have no shame at this I also watch myself because I don’t want to cause undue offense to people. Once upon a time I would have said people just have thin skins but in this day and age of electronic death threats, fire bombings, SWATings and more a lot of people feel legitimately targeted. And I don’t want to contribute to anyone feeling unsafe for the sake of my humor. That’s called being a jerk. So, I’ve become pretty good at identifying political correctness so that I can decide whether to observe or reject it. I usually default to observing it in public but then may or not in private as I need to set an example for my children and while I want them to be considerate I don’t want them to be unthinking. That’s how we get Nazis being called the Alt-Right. Yeah, that’s the legacy of excessive political correctness. Anyway, this is a long way around of saying I see no political correctness in the Rogue One trailer. But remember that jerk thing I mentioned. I see it in the comments.

“It will be full of gays next.”

OK. Bring it. I’m a child of 70s sci fi where I devoured books with premises like “what if we had to interact with species with three sexes” or “what if genders changed from a virus” and all kinds of other things. Bring it on. Use alien races as analogies. Let other cultures be totally different from ours. Let sexuality vary as much as religion and dress styles do. And let young gay/bi/trans/asexual/whatever boys/girls/whatever see themselves in the heroes and villains of a galaxy far, far away.

“Women should be in the kitchen, not saving the Galaxy. Know your place.”

I’m going to clue you into a secret here since I have a feeling broad life experiences isn’t your forte dear Youtube commenter. There are women who choose a traditional American gender role. They will cook dinner every night and clean the house. You may meet one, you may marry one. If you do, don’t forget they are doing it because they choose that role. They may like that role. You can debate what degree of nature versus nurture came to that point in her decision but there is no legitimate debate that it is not her place any more than she makes it her place. Free will works that way regardless of nature or nurture. And another woman may make her place serving in the military. One may serve in the military and then become a housewife. One may become a housewife and then make her place putting her foot up your ass. Place Foot Ass You. Why? Why would you ask me, ask her. I’m just giving you fair warning. Women choosing roles of service does not make them door mats. Guess what, we all serve in one way or another. It shouldn’t make any of us door mats whether you serve at a reference desk, in the kitchen, on a warship or in some other way. We’re all part of the big human machine.

When I saw the announcement for Rogue One I was excited for a Star Wars movie. Now I’m excited to be taking my wife and daughters a to a female led Star Wars movie. I hope it’s a good movie but I want my daughters to see heroes that they identify with just as I identified with Luke Skywalker. The fact that it will piss off some troglodytes is just all the better.

Movers and Shakers 2011

Apparently the good folks at Library Journal had a failure in their taste levels since they picked me as a Mover and Shaker this year.

I’m honored and a bit bewildered.  I recommend you check out the list.  There are some amazing folks on there despite sharing printed space with me.

What I’m most proud about it actually isn’t anything to do with me, but I hope that the visibility of the SC LENDS project will help people see what they can do with the evolving tools out there for libraries including Open Source and projects like Evergreen.

The New IT Guy

The IT Crowd The IT Crowd

I can officially announce it now.  I’ve left my position with the Florence County Library System.  I turned in my resignation on Wednesday.  I’ve accepted a position with the South Carolina State Library as their new IT Director.

I actually live in between the two places so it’s only a slightly longer commute for me.  So, I don’t have to find a new place that let’s me raise chickens and has such gorgeous Spring flowers just yet.  Finding a place with a pond and better Internet providers would be nice though.

So, I will be the new IT guy there.  For those who don’t know the picture on the right it’s from a BBC comedy series The IT Crowd.  Let’s just say that I hope no one reading (or writing this) is one of these folks.  It will be strange being the director.  On the one hand, I won’t be doing anything with IT that I don’t already do.  However, I won’t be the primary sysadmin – instead they will work for me.  So, many things I’m used to doing myself I will have to delegate.  I can live with that but don’t think I’d be happy never having any hands on role.  Hopefully, this isn’t the Dilbert Principle in effect.  There will be many new things to do related and conceptually close to things I’ve already done.  I’m excited.  There are challenges ahead.

What for SCLENDS you ask, our Evergreen consortium?   Well, my role will stay the same but now instead of volunteering a lot of nights and weekends as an employee of Florence I will have it as a primary part of my job and hopefully only doing a bit on nights and weekends.  I get a more official say in building the infrastructure and future of SCLENDS.  It won’t be my job to say that SCLENDS must be the future of libraries in South Carolina but I believe that it will be as a result of market forces and social needs.  And maybe, just maybe, a cultural shift.

My posts here will continue to be written and posted on my own time and reflect only my own opinion and not those of SCLENDS, the State Library or any associated agencies or institutions.  Nor will I be posting as an employee of them though I always try to remain sensitive to their concerns.  So, with that said I know that my new position does reflect a growing need for centralization.  The fact is that as you look across human organizations there is always a central figure or tight group.  You may have responsible and competent sub chiefs but there is always a clearing house, a coordinator, a big picture person who makes decisions and takes blame.  SCLENDS has it’s executive body but I will take that role of the central person as I have for the last eight months.  As we’ve grown, matured, and demand for the services only available from a central party have grown we’ve evaluated and acted.  I stepped up and filled this role but everyone in SCLENDS looked to the State Library for leadership.  They also decided to restructure their IT a bit and thought leadership in their IT, leadership for technology in libraries and leadership for SCLENDS all needed a central figure.  I thought I was a strong fit for this role and am glad they agreed.

Have I mentioned that I have mixed feelings about the word leadership?  It makes it sound like a semi-mystical quality of a person.  I really think of it as work – communication, tracking, to do lists, negotiating, etc…. and it becomes leadership if people think well of you for it.  And, as always, they think well of your leadership if you’re successful and that happens with a good team.  So, leadership is a bit of a loop – it may help a team succeed but you won’t have the ‘it’ needed without that team being good all on their own.  I think I’ll have one at the State Library.

Anyway, enough procastinating.  I’ve already cleaned my desk, re-ordered one book shelf and written this blog post instead of preparing my staff day slides for tomorrow.

Evergreen Project Board

Evergreen Project Board Evergreen Project Board

My wife fussed at me the other day, playfully.  “Why have a blog if you don’t update it?”  She’s right of course.  She usually is.  So, rather than explain why I haven’t updated I thought I’d show folks and beg forgiveness.  This is my project board.  I’ve blurred it to protect both the innocent and the guilty.  It has over 50 items on it ranging from small things that affect one library as easy to define projects to big things that affect the entire consortium and have to be broken down into multiple projects.  Each color is a different category: SCLENDs, Member, Cataloging and Tertiary.  Trust me, they make sense to me.  Think of it as task cataloging with subjective subject headings.