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In recent weeks, I have sent out several mailings critical of Google-philia among librarians. They have dealt with issues mainly concerning privacy and security. Mark LeVine ("The Danger of Google History in a Time of War," March 14) points out a different, more troubling aspect of Google-ism: the way it shapes the view of what's true and what's not, of what happened and what didn't, of what's history and what's just unsubstantiated rumor. I encourage other librarians to read this story as part of my ongoing guerrilla war against Google worship in the field of librarianship. All of these items are of practical concern to our patrons in this particular historic conjuncture: we have a responsibility to know it, to let people know about it, to think through its implications, and to help educate our professional colleagues about how Google-itis is not a joke, but a serious trend with important consequences in information provision, which is, ostensibly, our business.
Chief Librarian, Reference Center for Marxist Studies
Thanks for Mark LeVine's article on web searching and the establishment of truth. Although it's easy to pick on Google here, the target is really the broader notion that any search engine returns a comprehensive and authoritative set of information. I appreciate the critiques of Google, but my personal experience also supports an opposite perspective: that such a "search-engine stamp of approval" can help guide the public to progressive and oppositional viewpoints that would neverrank high in other settings. In 1997, I put up a website (www.zpub.com/cpp/saw.html) about the Spanish-American War. If you type those terms in now, I'm ranked No. 5, offering high school students and interested citizens a take on our nation's history that they probably never got before. A high Google ranking has been very, very good to me. This new medium has complex realities.
Electronic Outreach Librarian
Institute of Industrial Relations
UC Berkeley LIKES WAR
Regarding Steve Lowery's sarcastic take on people signing pro-war form letters ("ReadyforWar.com!" March 21)—this e-mail is not a form letter—I can speak for myself. I'm not for war, but I am for any anti-terrorist efforts that are required, and what is happening in Iraq is required; I am in support of President George W. Bush. There is no "anti-war" movement—it is all anti-President Bush and pro-Saddam and pro the so-called suicide bombers who are murderers. But the anti-Bush people have their minds firmly made up—they shout they have a right to express their views. And how was this "right" obtained? From former wars fought.
Steve Lowery responds: First, you can be anti-war without being anti-Bush or pro-Saddam. To think otherwise is to share the same if-you-disagree-you're-dead mindset of Hussein. Secondly, the "right" to express one's views was not obtained by fighting wars but by the Bill of Rights, which some wars have been fought to defend. That's some, not all—not the Spanish-American, not Korea, not Vietnam and not this one.
THE MEXICAN PROBLEM
Gustavo Arellano: Was that you at the California Coalition for Immigration Reform meeting last month to see Chris Simcox ("See Tombstone, Nab a Mexican," March 7)? Was your article fair, or was it spin? I say SPIN—let me count the ways: (1) "Nab some Mexicans"? Well, since most border jumpers in Cochise County are Mexicans, most of the "nabbed" will be Mexicans. (2) "Vigilante group." I guess that word is meant to strike terror in the hearts of—whom? Vigilance committee: assuming authority . . . to keep order and punish crime . . . because of the failure of the usual law-enforcement agencies. Illegal entry into the United States is a crime, according to our immigration laws and the U.S. Supreme Court. "Vigilante" is your word, not a word used by Simcox's Civil Homeland Defense Corps. But "vigilante" sounds okay to me. (3) "Anti-immigrant activists"? You and others who wish to erase our southern border know the difference between immigrants and illegal aliens. For your next article, try "anti-illegal immigration activists." (4) "Attempts to link Mexico with every perceived foreign threat." Well, Mexico's security chief, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, announced more than a year ago that militant Hezbollah cells are operating in northern Mexico. Or is Hezbollah not a threat in your eyes?
Gustavo Arellano responds: Sounds like we attended the same meeting!
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NICEST GUY EVER
OUCH!! Imagine waiting 25 years to read a review of some of your earliest recordings (Saucers CD review by Chris Ziegler, Feb. 21). Then imagine the review singles out your departure as the best contributing factor to the band's sound! "Too-enthusiastic keyboardist," indeed. Ha! Well, I was 17 and ambitious—what can I say? Think of this as the Saucers' box set and enjoy those early "seminal" recordings for what they're worth. Anyway, it was great fun to read the review and see the Saucers in print after so long. My thanks to Chris for presenting a historically and musically accurate portrait of Saucers.
Long Island, New York DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS
Jim Washburn's "No Blood for Water!" (Lost in OC, March 14) states that the Connecticut company Poseidon Resources "built the nation's largest desalination plant in Tampa Bay, Florida, now in its shakedown stage and due to go full-tilt in a couple of months." According to an official with Tampa Bay Water, while Poseidon "designed, permitted and owned the facility," Covanta Tampa Construction handled the actual construction. Since purchased by Tampa Bay Water, the plant began operating on March 17, supplying about 8 million gallons per day into their regional system and should be fully operational by mid- to late April.