Archive

Archive for May, 2012

Book Review: The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change by Roger Thurow

May 31, 2012 4 comments

Kenyan woman standing in a field.Summary:
Smallholder farmers make up the majority of Kenya’s food production and yet they face multiple challenges from inefficient planting techniques to bad seed markets that lead to an annual wanjala–hunger season.  One Acre Fund, an ngo, saw the gap and came in with a vision.  Sell farmers high quality seeds and fertilizers on credit, delivered to their villages, on the condition they attend local farming classes.  Roger Thurow follows four families as they try out becoming One Acre farmers.

Review:
Every once in a while there’s a book that you know will impact your entire life.  I know this is one of those books.

Thurow strikes the perfect balance between narrating the farmers’ lives and knowledgeably discussing the global politics and environmental problems that also impact the hunger.  The information he hands out would be riveting in any case, but how he narrates it kicks it up to another level.

Central to the book is this question:

Why were people still dying of hunger at the beginning of the twenty-first century when the world was producing—and wasting—more food than ever before? (location 202)

I know we all know there is hunger in the world, but it can be easy to ignore when it doesn’t have a face like David or Dorcas, two of the children featured whose mothers flat out do not have food to give them.  During the wanjala, since it is most of the families’ first years using One Acre Fund, they do not have enough maize (their staple crop) from the year before.  Thus while watching their fields grow, they don’t have enough food to feed their families.  During the height of the wanjala the families routinely have tea for breakfast and lunch and maybe some boiled vegetables or bananas for dinner.  And they still must farm and go to school.  I can’t recall the last time I’ve been so humbled.

Don’t get me wrong.  The families profiled in this book aren’t put on a pedestal or romanticized or distanced.  They are very real.  But their strength and wisdom in the face of so many challenges has no other option but to be inspirational.  Because it is so real.

You don’t focus on the afflictions you have, on your poverty; you focus on where you are going. (location 1469)

Makes you feel bad for complaining about morning commutes, doesn’t it?

Beyond talking about the disgusting fact that there is still hunger in a world with so much plenty and demonstrating the resilience of the families, the book also discusses One Acre Fund’s poverty fighting ideas.  Basically they operate on the teach a man to fish principle.  Thurow talks about how Youn, the founder, believes that bringing in food aid to feed farmers is absurd.  We should instead be helping them to farm better.  Beyond it not being sustainable to feed everyone year after year, it robs the farmers of their dignity.  This was the point I liked best.  These people are not dumb or lazy.  They are victims of a system that is not working.  Helping them help themselves lets them retain their humanity and dignity.  I think that’s something that is often missing in charity work and ngos, but it’s vital to truly changing the game.

Overall, if you want a book that will challenge your perceptions, humble you, broaden your horizons, and help you see how to truly fight global poverty, this is the book for you.  In other words, this is recommended for everyone.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Netgalley

Buy It

Counts For:
Specific country? Kenya
map of africa

Cover Announcement

May 30, 2012 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

I am beyond excited to inform you that the edits are FINISHED for my second novel entitled Waiting For Daybreak.  It is 41,685 words.  Yay!

The publication date is tentatively set for sometime in July.  The exact date will be determined after I sit down and figure out the blog tour.  (Please let me know if you’d be interested in participating in that!)

In the meantime, you can get a sneak peak via the cover, which was finished today.  I hope you enjoy!

 

Evidence, Bias, and Use…Oh, My! (MLA12 Seattle: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Section)

May 27, 2012 Leave a comment

So at the meeting, librarians present their papers that were accepted to the conference.  These are organized into groups of four sponsored by one of the MLA’s sections.  I’m pleased to say that on Monday I made it to an entire session.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine includes everything from yoga to special diets (veg*nism, gluten-free) to acupuncture to traditional Chinese medicine to etc….  I appreciate CAM because it tends to look at the patient as a whole instead of just the diseased body part.  Plus I was curious as to what the presentations would have to say.  One thing that it is important to know.  Cochrane is a database of systematic reviews.  A systematic review is a study of the studies done.  It then summarizes what we know so far.  Think of it as centralized scientific study information.  The other thing to know is that in Western medicine, a treatment is come up with and then tested before it is used with people.  In CAM, the treatments are already in practice, so traditional randomized control trials (RCTs) used in Western medicine aren’t super-applicable.

“Cochrane Complementary and Alternative Medicine Systematic Reviews: An Analysis of Authors’ Comments on the Quality and Quantity of Evidence and Efficacy Conclusions” by Robin A. Paynter

  • CAM limited by RCT-driven evidence-based practice
  • 10% of database are CAM topics
  • Cochrane has a project to develop a classification scheme of CAM topics.
  • 47 out of 53 Cochrane groups have at least one review on a CAM topics
  • Treatment ares cover everything from vitamins to yoga
  • dietary intervention has 37 studies
  • Cochrane expresses concern over poor study designs.
  • Difficult to determine active content in plant-based meds
  • Significant groupage of comments around insufficient evidence and no effect.
  • cross-cultural issues

“Alternative Research Education in a Post-R25 World: Assessing Acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) Student Attitudes Toward Research and the Scientific Method” by Candise Branum

  • Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine–AOM
  • R25 grants intend to develop research literacy and view research as a bridge between Western medicine and CAM
  • Acupuncture Practitioner Research Education Enhancement (APREE)
  • AOM student interest in research declined with years in school, a 2006 study found
  • Do students recognize the benefits of AOM research? Overwhelming yes.
  • Students at schools without dedicated research departments were very unsure about the impact of research.
  • Feelings about research slope toward the negative over time.
  • Students see the benefits of research but that doesn’t necessarily mean they like it
  • A lot of students want to stay alternative and not become complementary
  • If they don’t want to be attached, they’re not gonna want to use the bridge of research.

“Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s (CAM’s) Research Agenda and Its Unique Challenges” by Jane D. Saxton

  • In 2007: 38.4% of adults used CAM over the previous 12 months.  Also, adults spent $33.9 billion out of pocket on CAM.
  • NIH funding to CAM is only 0.5% of the overall budget.
  • CAM is individualized not standardized.  (It’s adjusted to fit the patient not one standard applied to all patients).
  • Whole Systems Research (WSR) is a term coined in 2002.  It is an approach to studying non-linear, whole systems of care.
  • Use of pragmatic RCTs: measure effectiveness, don’t use placebos, patient-centered outcomes (transformational change)
  • CAM is the opposite of Western meds.  The treatment is already in use, whereas Western medicine is proposed, tried, then used.
  • You don’t need to know the biological mechanism in order to know its effectiveness.
  • MeSH terms currently available: complementary therapies, nonlinear dynamics, systems integration
  • We need more funding, different approaches, Whole Systems Research!
  • Please take a moment to check out the libguide of this presentation.

“Hitchhiker’s Guide to One Corner of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Universe” by  Ron LeFebvre

  • Vitalists are more interested in information (they “know” it works).
  • Empiricists value EBM but may not be great at finding what they’re looking for.
  • Chiropractors don’t like to be associated with medicine.  Use terms like “health care” and “practice” with them.
  • A good chiropractic search string: spinal manipulation OR chiropractic OR manual therapy
  • New graduates are more likely to be EBP savvy.
  • “There’s nothing that makes you more skeptical about research than studying it.”
  • There is no widely-used, well-regarded point-of-service tool to serve chiropractic interests specifically.  They do use Dynamed though.
  • PEDRO–database for physical therapy/exercise therapy that is also useful to chiropractors

Q and A

  • Diet is odd.  Sometimes it is viewed as an alternative medicine, sometimes not.  If it’s a non-western diet, though, it’s considered alternative.
  • NIH funded PROMIS is focused on patient-reported outcomes, particularly in treating anxiety/depression.
  • N-CAM databse has outcome scales and measures

Book Review: David Goodis Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s by David Goodis

May 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Black Library of America cover showing covers of 5 original books.Summary:
The Library of America collects together great pieces of American literature into themed books.  This can be anything from an author, to writing on aviation, to the Harlem Renaissance, to transcendentalism.  This collection is David Goodis’s best works, all of which happen to be noir.  Obviously the most well-known noir author is Raymond Chandler, but one of Goodis’s works was made into a Bogie and Bacall movie, so he’s not too far behind.  The books in order of year published included in this collection are:

Dark Passage–A man framed for his wife’s murder escapes San Quentin and investigates the case with the aid of a beautiful woman in San Francisco.

Nightfall–A WWII veteran on his way to Chicago for a job finds himself inextricably linked to a robbery and murder and goes on the lam.

The Moon in the Gutter–A dockworker becomes obsessed with figuring out who raped his sister, leading to her ultimate suicide.

The Burglar–A man in his 30s who fell into the world of thieving during the Great Depression tries to get out but his tutor’s daughter keeps sucking him back in.

Street of No Return–A hobo finds himself implicated in a cop murder in the middle of race riots between whites and Puerto Ricans.

Review:
I am a huge fan of noir.  I even took a noir class in undergrad, so when this showed up on Netgalley, I knew I wanted to read it, particularly since I recognizedDark Passage as a film I had watched last year.  Surprisingly, we didn’t read any Goodis in that class, so it was fun to try out someone who’s not Chandler.  I think Chandler found more of a niche than Goodis what with the fact his main character is the same in every novel.  Goodis explores a bit more.  His books all have a noir feel, but they don’t follow the exact same formula.  For instance, instead of a hardboiled private dick, you might get a hardboiled thief or artist or hobo.  Plus the books tend to be a bit more tragic than most noir I have read.

Goodis’s writing at the sentence level has the tongue-in-cheek wit that I so enjoy.

“Madge is a fine girl.”
“Maybe one of these days she’ll get run over by an automobile.”
“It’s something to pray for.” (location 801)

He also is fabulous at setting a scene so richly that it seems as if it is our world but simultaneously is Wonderland.

She had seated herself in a deep sofa that looked like it was fashioned from pistachio ice cream and would melt away any minute. (location 5039)

The mystery aspects of his storylines are unpredictable, don’t always wrap up neatly, and yet make sense once they are revealed to you.  Unfortunately, these strengths are offset by his weak romance writing.  Every single romantic interest in all of the books are a small-framed, lean woman with light brown hair.  The author has a type, we can definitely see that.  Beyond that, though, the love is always instant.  They see each other across the room and fall for each other.  And both people acknowledge this and say it’s something that can’t be helped and they are at its beck and call.  This would be less of a bother except that the main characters often make important decisions based on this new “love.”  For instance, one of the characters gives up his career for this woman he barely knows.  Who does that?! It’s therefore difficult to be sympathetic to the characters when you are thrown out of believability.  That’s unfortunate because the scene setting and mystery plots are so strong.

The best work of the bunch is The Moon in the Gutter where the impetus for a lot of the action is not the romantic interest, but the love between siblings.  Additionally, it looks at issues of class, being stuck where you are, having who you can love and build a life with dictated to you by that classism innate in society.  The grittiness is extreme.  We’re talking about a dockworker dealing with his sister’s rape and subsequent suicide.  Yet Goodis acknowledges the good there too for the blue collar dock workers and their families.  Their lives are passionate and intense in a way that sitting around sipping wine and discussing the symphony just isn’t.

Overall, Goodis exhibits a lot of the qualities of good noir writing.  His style is dark and gritty, often with a femme fatale.  His stories offer more variety than those of other noir writers, but still fall solidly within and as a great example of the genre.  I recommend this collection to those who know they are a fan of noir, and the book The Moon in the Gutter to those who aren’t and would like to dip their toe in.

4 out of 5 stars

Buy It

Source: Netgalley

What Librarians Talk About (MLA12 Seattle: Plenary 3: Janet Doe Lecture by Mark E. Funk, AHIP, FMLA)

May 26, 2012 Leave a comment

The first plenary is given by the MLA president, the second by someone who is not necessarily a librarian but has something interesting to say that will aid us in our profession.  The third plenary, however, is given by a librarian.  Mark E. Funk’s presentation was entitled, “Our Words, Our Story: A Textual Analysis of Articles Published in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association/Journal of the Medical Library Association from 1961 to 2010.”  Here are my notes.

  • An analysis of the words revealed four key areas that librarians talk about: environment, management, technology, and research.
  • Although we talk more about building than people, that gap is narrowing.
  • We are basically almost not talking about books, but we are increasingly talking about journals.
  • Reference is steady.  Searching is increasing.
  • Information is the #2 word.
  • As our information world becomes more complicated, we are talking more and more about teaching.  “I predict teaching will become ever more important.”
  • We are now concerned about what we can do to improve health.
  • New groups we’ve reached out to include: clinicians, consumers, and patients.
  • We use management words to tell our story.
  • We are no longer running our libraries like academic environments; we are running them like businesses.
  • We are early adopters and write about it.
  • Sometimes new technology becomes so embedded in our lives that we don’t mention it anymore.  For example, you say you talked to someone but don’t mention the telephone.
  • Our attention has shifted from automating to digitizing.
  • We don’t talk about the internet.  We talk about the web and navigation.
  • The word with the sharpest rise and fall is: Gopher
  • IMRaDification of our profession.  (IMRaD–Intro, Methodology, Results, Discussion)
  • MLA strategic plan encouraged us to do more research, and we responded.
  • Hockey Stick terms–little to no use, sharp recent uptake.  May indicate future usage but it could be a drastic rise and fall. Only time will tell.
  • EHRs are white hot now. (EHR–Electronic Hospital Record)
  • Why do we study history?  It’s very good at explaining change.  Answers the question, how did we get here?
  • De-emphasis on physical.  Emphasis on information.  Prefer evidence-based.
  • Emphasis on health.  Expanded audience.  Outside the library.   Teaching people.
  • Libraries more business-like. Technophiles. More research articles using IMRaD.
  • History can hint at the future, but it can’t predict it.
  • Our story is being written every day.  We can’t skip chapters to see what happens next.

Statistical Literacy and Techniques in Library Research and Practice (MLA12 Seattle: Research Section)

May 26, 2012 Leave a comment

So at the meeting, librarians present their papers that were accepted to the conference.  These are organized into groups of four sponsored by one of the MLA’s sections.  I was a bit late to the Research Section, since I got caught up at the poster exhibit, but here are my notes for the two presentations I did see that day.

“The Analysis and Translation of Unpublished Health Sciences Data: Extra Innings for the Library Profession” by Wallace McLendon, David Potenziani, and Susan Corbett, AHIP

  • The ability to use data to answer questions brings more work to library.
  • When people say they want to access data, they really want the information that can be derived from it.
  • analytics: reactive vs. proactive
  • Libraries hold and curate data. Expand that to analysis.
  • Do more to reach administrators in terms of competitive intelligence.
  • Don’t define your job too narrowly.

“Hitting a Home Run: Statistician Consults at the AG-VET MED Library Improve Research Design Quality” by Ann Viera

  • Medical libraries are partnering with statisticians.
  • Librarian-statistician partnership to improve research design.
  • The alternatives search was occurring too late in the process to improve animal welfare.  This frustrates the librarian and angers the researcher.
  • Access to statistical reports needs to be happening earlier in the research program.
  • Consulting on stats improves animal welfare.
  • Having the statistician in the library improves the concept of library as space.
  • Providing access to the statistician protects faculty from becoming overburderned.
  • Do it right or do it over (in research and construction).
  • Doing the research before designing the study helps you design the study correctly the first time.

Friday Fun! (Seattle and MLA12)

May 25, 2012 10 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

You may have noticed a recent surge in librarianship posts this week.  I was so energized and excited about my career after MLA12 that I decided to post up my notes from the various sessions I attended here.  It helps me organize my thoughts about them, but also gets the knowledge out there for others to see.

But enough about the conference, I know you guys are wondering about Seattle!

Pike Place Market painted piggy.

My first day I made it to Pike Place Market.  It’s a famous market in the Puget Sound.  Unfortunately, it’s kinda well-known for how the fish sellers throw the fish around.  Obviously, being a vegetarian lady I wasn’t too keen on watching dead bodies of innocent creatures being thrown around, so I avoided that particular sector of the market.  I did find some things in the market that entertained me in their own way, though.  The very first Starbucks, complete with its topless lady logo.  I stopped to listen to a band of old men jamming (they were very talented).  I met the giant carving of Sasquatch that Seattle is evidently very proud of (although I was never in the woods, so, alas, did not meet the real Sasquatch).  I also managed to find an adorable independent bookstore called Left Bank Books with quite possibly the best bookstore logo ever: Read a Fucking Book.  Also they had an entire animal liberation section that warmed the cockles of my heart.

Looking up through Seattle’s sidewalk.

The next day I somehow managed to squeeze in the Seattle Underground tour around the conference.  Basically, Seattle burned down back in the day. They decided this was a good chance to solve the whole sewage constantly in the street because of lack of proper drainage problem. But the merchants didn’t want to wait the 7 years it would take to elevate the ground, so they built their building at regular level, but made the pretty entrance on the second floor. That way as the city built up the retaining walls and filled in the street and such, the first floor became the basement, and the second floor the first floor. So we were wandering around underground on what used to be the above-ground sidewalks. Confused yet?

Outside the EMP Museum

My final day in Seattle, I went to the EMP Museum (Experimental Music Project).  I wasn’t so into the main museum itself, but they were having a special exhibit called “Can’t Look Away.”  Besides learning more about the sociology and history of horror, I also saw: an Alien from Alien, the monster’s boots from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the saw from Saw, the axe from The Shining, models used in special effects from The Fly, Freddy Kruger’s glove, the interrogation chair from Hostel, and much more!! It was totally bad-ass. I was in heaven.  Also they gave me a list of the 100 horror films to see before you die.  I’ve seen 29, which is pretty good for being 25 myself.

Freddy Kruger's glove!

So beyond the touristy stuff, what did I think of Seattle?

The Cool:

  • Buildings hand out free “umbrella bags” so you can bag your umbrella and not drip everywhere.
  • Buildings also have overhangs so most of the sidewalk is not actually out where you get rained on.
  • Super hilly, which is good for the legs.
  • Skid Row term originated there.
  • The history is skeezy and fascinating.  All the stuff I love about the old west.
  • The accent is pretty adorable.  Kind of a softened version of Midwest with less niceties.
  • Legal happy hour.

The Annoying and/or Odd:

  • Getting called ma’am all the time.
  • Having doors held open for me even when it’s not necessary or particularly helpful.
  • Way too many homeless people.
  • Omg the smoking.
  • Seriously, where the hell are the pizza places and why did the two I found not sell by the slice?
  • The Space Needle is seriously underwhelming.
  • The fashion is. Well. It’s like Berklee threw up on people.

Really, though, I had a wonderful time at the conference and being a tourist.  It’s not like it surprised me that I wouldn’t want to call Seattle home.  I’ve known a very long time now that Boston is my city soulmate.  But I had fun visiting and definitely would go back as a tourist again.  I just would skip Pike Place Market and spend a lot more time in Pioneer Square.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 933 other followers