Sunday, July 31, 2022

My finest photography hour

Dear Clerkmanifesto,

Yesterday a "Roy" wrote in to ask about your most read blogpost. I found this to be not very interesting at all. 

I don't think "Roy" is even a real person!

I read clerkmanifesto for its up to the minute reflections on art, library work, and politics. I don't pop in to find out what your most popular blog post was, or what your favorite color is, or how many blog posts you've written! 

Anyway, what's been your most popular photograph so far?

I'll take my answer via blog post if that's okay.



Dear Roy,

The thing I like about you is that you tell it like it is.

This is my most popular photograph, though it might grow less so since I trot it out for any occasion I can.


Saturday, July 30, 2022

Poking through the mailbag


As we relax with a bottle of zinfandel, endeavoring to keep up with clerkmanifesto during our chilled out vacation, we turn inevitably to our mailbag. Driven, as we are, by our own mercurial muse, we sometimes neglect the many letters that come into the clerkmanifesto offices that are faithfully forwarded to us from our publishers offices on 32 Internet Way in Silicon Valley.

What better time than now to catch up on our mail!

So let's grab a letter right off the top of our bag.

Hmm, this is an advertisement for discount oil changes. 

Let's grab second off the top!

Dear Clerkmanifesto,

I am really enjoying your unusual take on library work. I am surprised to find there are over 200 blog posts that you have already written! I've read seven so far, so I have a few more to go (ha ha)! 

My favorite post so far is: "My clerking career as Stephen King's The Long Walk.

I was wondering what your most popular blog post is so far.

Thanks. I have enclosed an SASE.



I hope you don't mind if I just answer your mail on clerkmanifesto, which you will surely see as you are such a faithful reader! Also, your SASE didn't have real stamp, it was just drawn on.

First, I have a lot more than 200 blog posts. I have published 3,500! When is your letter here from?

Ah, I see. 

Roy's letter is postmarked 2014.

Roy is gone.

Also, inspecting it through an electron microscope reveals it to contain no Covid 19 germs, and disproportionately few Trump cooties as well.

Ah time and fate...

Nevertheless I will answer this person's question, such is my largesse!

Also I don't have any more mail to respond to after this one from Roy (not his real name, not his real letter). It turns out the bag of forwarded mail only had two items.

According to stats my most read blog post of all time is called:

"Request Hunting"

It has 10,500 views. It's not particularly good. I mean it's okay, just probably more of a statistical fluke.

Actually, at this point, I've come to consider any view of any of my blog posts to be a weird accident.

Except, of course, yours.

Friday, July 29, 2022



Remember how I'm on vacation?

I warned you about it yesterday?

But no one can leap into a vacation. One has to ease into it. Get the hang of it. One has to clean the floor of the apartment first before one can call it a vacation.

No, that's not a metaphor.

Today, on the first day of my vacation, but before I cleaned the floor (which I am putting off at this very moment!), I took my real camera out for the first time in ages. It had been hurting my injured back to carry it around, so I'd been wandering this photogenic world without it.

Today though, I had my camera, so I took some pictures, which we will now look at while sipping Aperol Spritzes.

Here's how you make an Aperol Spritz:

In an oversized wine goblet, place five cubes of ice. Add two or three ounces of Aperol. It's pretty! Add some more for fun. Pour in one of those single serving bottles of Prosecco. Top with sparkling water.

Should you stir?

I guess. If you want. But you don't have to because it's vacation.

Here are all the pictures. Because it is vacation I won't annotate as we go, I'll just let you know that the pictures involve the usual naturalist Summer assortment: flowers, bees, dead fish, sunsets over the city, a bird, and a rabbit.

I trust you to sort it all out, but you should drink about halfway through your Spritz first.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Vacation incoming


As I write, I am precisely 25 minutes away from 11 days of vacation. Who knows what kind of blog posts you'll see while I'm on vacation? Anything could happen, but there probably won't be a lot of library stories since I won't be at the library.

I do have quite a few pictures to work with on my phone. Like what about this one:

Dramatic, no?

Curiously that picture takes place in the Uffizi, which is where we went on our last really long vacation. 

This vacation isn't that long. And it should be a little more chill.

I think maybe I'll just put on some music and here at clerkmanifesto we'll just kind of hang out for the next 11 days. You okay with that?

Good. You've been seeming a bit stressed yourself.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Following orders


A few weeks ago our library director wrote us all. He thought it would be nice if we would greet everybody who comes into our library. This can be hard to do at a large, near urban library where there is often a heavy flow of people.

Also, let's be honest, we do have a serious contingent of library patrons who would much prefer to go unnoticed. There is a contingent of patrons that really, really want to be noticed, and talked to, and listened to extensively, but there is also a contingent of people that really don't.

The two groups look a lot alike. The art is in telling these two contingents apart. This comes with experience, long study, familiarity, and experimentation.

But sure, we can greet everyone.

Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello.

But as regular readers will know, after three and a half very dedicated months on the job, our library director ran away screaming into the night.

Which leaves the question: what do I do now that he's gone?

I think maybe the safe thing would be to continue to ignore him.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

The principle of exactitude revisited


Recently in this space I presented my principle of exactitude, which asserts:

The more uncomfortable the truth, the more exacting will be the proofs required.

This was an opening gambit in a deep philosophical and political and psychological discussion of many, many things. I hadn't settled on just what those things would be. But it turned out they were super hard to write about! So I just went for a low joke right away and ran for the hills, one more of my thousands of daily blog posts ticked off on the great Internet scoreboard in my head.

But that never really works out.

I have continued to think about it...

The more uncomfortable the truth, the more exacting will be the proofs required.

It has been a very hot summer, regularly in the nineties here. It is 93 degrees as I write this. More than 30 states in this country are currently under heat warnings. And a devastating heatwave struck Continental Europe and then England, killing thousands of people. And while all this transpired I was reading an engaging and compelling book called The Ministry for the Future

The Ministry for the Future is perched between imagined non fiction and speculative science fiction. It starts out pretty dark, and resolves into something willfully optimistic. It is a kind of narrative imagining of what happens in the next 30 or so years of the global climate crisis.

There is your perfect poster child for my principle of exactitude: Global Warming. 

What could be a more uncomfortable truth than that we are boiling our planet and us, alive, within it? That we are literally in the process of murdering most of humanity.

That is very uncomfortable indeed.

And so, by our principle's reckoning,  we hold that absolute, unbreakable, entirely verified truth of Global Warming and its devastating realities to proofs of such perfection, of such unmitigated accuracy, that it cannot be shown to be true enough to do anything about it until it has already happened. 

After all, the only absolute proof that someone has terminal cancer is...

their death.


Curiously, though The Ministry for the Future was popularly and critically successful, I found a considerable amount of negativity towards the book online. I found it to be a terrific book, walking a terrible tightrope from our impossible nature as a species literally dooming us to death, to a possibility of us managing to barely do good enough to squeak through, maybe, in the end, by hook and crook. But possibly, in a relation to my very principle of exactitude, people objected to the book. I found people taking issue with its ideas of banking, social media, geopolitics, and to nearly every aspect of its climate science. There were even criticisms that the book could not be good because Obama and Bill Gates both famously liked it (hint: Villains do not generally recognize themselves as such, and especially so the kind of conditional villains who would actually read such a book as this).

These criticisms were not mostly leveled by climate change deniers, but that is by no means a necessary rebuttal to my principle. The Ministry for the Future throws the kitchen sink at the problem of Climate Change and at late stage capitalism itself. A science fiction, it imagines possibilities to the best of its ability out of the most plausible realities it can express. It creates a new currency based on carbon sequestering. It throws dust into the upper atmosphere for cooling. It creates assassins killing the worst climate criminals. It employs shame and politics and popular uprisings. It builds airships and solar ships to replace jets and supertankers. If some of these things are too fanciful, or are not grounded enough, and that is one's sticking point with the book, one misses the spirit of the book as badly as Obama and Bill Gates in their self-satisfied complacency have misunderstood the spirit of the book. It takes a very, very uncomfortable truth, and all it does is demand proofs.

While driving through our hot city this evening (burning fossil fuel!) we saw a man on a corner holding a sign. This sign had a picture of Donald Trump, and it said "Liar".

I think he had something there.

We may all die arguing over things we already know are true.

Monday, July 25, 2022

My work here


A man and a woman approach me at the front desk of the library. The man is wearing a T-shirt that reads "St. Paul". I don't remember how the woman was dressed. The man has an armful of books from the nearby, St. Paul, City library system. The woman asks "Can we still return books from another library system in your book return?"

"Yes, you can." I answer. "But," I add portentously as they are turning towards our return slot in the front lobby, "The person returning the books needs to be wearing the name of the library system the books belong to on their shirt."

And the crazy thing it that I am paid exactly the same as anyone else in my job classification!

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Kitchen sink


It is possible that I am doing so much phone "collage" photography these days because I haven't been able to carry around my big camera, even though my back does seem to be improving. I am limited to the things my phone does best. Lately my results, while prolific, have been, I don't know, desultory?

Sure, desultory. I looked it up. It has some interesting and varied meanings.

Here, for example, is a small stream of the somewhat random, unfocussed, casual, half-hearted pictures I have been making.

But then, suddenly, after a few hours of this (yes, I am sorry, dear believers in easy magic, there are actual hours in this!), I realized I wasn't being desultory, I was working towards the assembly of an opus! I was making many pictures, and they were diluted.

I needed to put them all together!

And so over the next couple of hours, I did!

And here you are:

Saturday, July 23, 2022



Staffing here in the library system I work at has become an... issue.

At all levels we have become unable to either hire new people or to retain them. And so we reduce down, ever toughened, more dense, and fewer. How strong we are in our density! Or sweet! Like maple sap we are boiled down to a thick syrup. Once we were great cauldrons of slightly flavored water, the lifeblood of trees. Now we are almost impenetrable, dense, viscous, even overwhelming.

We can flavor anything.

But I wax poetic.

We lost another library director. 

This one lasted for three and half months. And it wasn't just any three and a half months, it was three and a half months of him telling us what an exciting opportunity this was for him, how thrilled he was to be here, how perfectly well-suited he was to all this, how well he fit together with everything in our library and our county. 

It was three and a half months of active listening, open meetings, vows of shared purpose, and his exclaiming:

What a future we have together!

Then, yesterday morning, he came in, dashed off a short email about how he was very happy here, but he is leaving for a better opportunity. Then, according to reports, without another word he walked out the door and took a farewell vacation to Ireland.

Well, after three and a half months he really earned that.

If you know what I mean.

But it is hardly just library directors around here!  Librarians and clerks are hired, show up for a single day, and then move on. Pages are employed from out of anemic pools of applicants, can't be registered because human resources has an out of order sign on it, and so find work elsewhere instead.

And so we become fewer.

What is happening!?

Here is a scenario for you:

We at the library wonder about these wild doings, these failed signings, astonished. Working with fewer and fewer people, we marvel. We cry out:

"We have become toxic here in the county!

And the very air of our library workplace is poison!"

And somewhere in the halls of County power they rub their hands together and say:

"Our plan is working!"

There may be some evil laughter involved.

But their plan is not working!

Sure, the new people come and instantly die, so to speak, overwhelmed by the radiation and clouds of toxicants. And the starry eyed dreamers leave for fresh air they do not know is gone now from a late capitalist America.

But we here who remain at the library are syrup, dark, sweet, gumming up any evil plan.

We are like master spies, carefully dosing on tiny drams of poison, building immunity in barely increasing increments, every day for years and years.

Nothing can kill us now.

Friday, July 22, 2022

More pointless things I have taken a slight interest in


I really know how to capture the Internet's attention!

Just look at that title: More Pointless Things I Have Taken a Slight Interest In.

It is no accident that clerkmanifesto is the 


most visited website, right after

which is a surprisingly engaging web page devoted to typing errors.

Oh, you went there and got a "Webpage not found 404" error?

You probably just mistyped it.

"Enough!" You cry out. "Enough with the kind of entertaining part of the blog post! What pointless thing have you taken a slight interest in?"

Thank you. I doubt I would ever have managed to get there without your question. My will was fading fast!

So, I think you were probably unexcited by my putting the same picture of Linus in a series of Van Gogh paintings. But it got me thinking: What if I took a bit of one painting you probably never saw, and put it in another, maybe even in a way that it's not that clear what painting is what.

Anyway, I just did it a few times, and here's what we have so far:

Jesus of the Cows

Figure on the Floor

The Monk and the Lady