Thursday, 23 August 2007

JSTOR - An Incomparable Library on the Internet

JSTOR is one of the truly great information resources on the Internet.

It's an absolutely free collection of academic journal articles stretching back for more than a century, from a huge range of different fields - in fact, almost anything you might be seriously interested in, and want to find out what those who were older and wiser than you have to say about it.

But it's difficult to get access to it. If you're an old fart living on a tiny island, miles from nowhere, you've got no chance. Unless you cheat.

I got a tip, from another blog, sometimes even more interesting than mine.

So, now, I'm a 'respectable resident' of a very correct Yankee small town in NE USA.

It's actually one of those two-storey pseudo-Gothic timber houses on Main Street, made by traditonal Yankee craftsmen, with a big lawn, shaded by ancient remnants of the old forest, and a 3 limo garage (for my beat-up old Chevy, my wife's Honda Civic, and my son's brand-new Suzuki combo van/pickup).

Upstairs, my son lives his very different teenage life, and, thankfully, the glass-fiber insulation I put in last year keeps his terrible music from me and my dear wife. (I like the Beatles, and she likes the Stones; we've been been discussing the difference ever since I first made her intimate acquaintance in the yard behind Matty's old grocery store - it's gone now - there's a Wal-Mart, full of Chinese stuff).

Our home has 2 CRs (CR = comfort room in the Philippines) - one upstairs ( for us) and one downstairs (for our occasional guests and our 'helpers').

(When I'm taken short at my real island home, in the middle of the night, and have to plod through the back yard to a dark room, where I clear out the resident frogs, toads and snakes, have a pee, and stamp out a few cockroaches, then I start to imagine a really nice CR, with a mahogany seat, a well-stocked bookshelf, and a simple handle that flushes out everything).

Or, at least, that's what I would like to think. If I really was there somewhere in the Yankee North East, I'd be writing a new John Updike novel every other week, or running for President.

But this trick doesn't always work.

I tried to join the New York Public Library.

They're a bit backward. They actually wanted to send me a plastic library card by snail mail, and gave me an area choose-list to help me write my address.

I chose New Babylon; can't think what made me do that - perhaps it was reading a report that morning that the Green Zone in Baghdad had been hit by mortar or rockets again.

But, anyway, I was on a totally wrong-thinking track.

The first response came from the New York Public Library - 'Your library card has been returned - addressee unknown'

The second must have come from the real resident of the fake New Babylon address I gave to the NYPL:

somewhere amongst the gubbins, the message quoted:

"rampaging white mobs and white night-riders must be made to understand that their days of free head-whipping are over. Black people should and must fight back. Nothing more quickly repels someone bent on destroying you than the unequivocal message: "O.K., fool, make your move, and run the same risk I run, of ...

This is a direct take from a Stokely Carmichael speech, given over 30 years ago, in the cause of Black Power.

Isn't the Internet wonderful? Somehow, from trying to cheat a public library system, I've connected to another old fart, who's living on a time-isolated island in New Babylon, still thinking that those great ideas of 30 or more years ago might have some effect in his lifetime.

Some hope. Sorry, Randy, old chap.

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