This is about books, truth and artificial intelligence. It’s also about airbrushing history and why we need our own personal libraries of what matters to us.There is a famous photograph from the Soviet Union’s Stalin era, in which the dictator is pictured with two other men beside a river. These days, it is usually shown beside a later edition of the picture from which the man on the right has been airbrushed out, to make a point about how totalitarian governments rewrite history to better control the future.This however, once the preserve of governments with vast resources, is now a game anybody can play. And that is a problem for anybody who wants to know the truth about anything important.The man removed from the picture by the way, was Nikolai Yezhov. For two years he headed the NKVD, the Soviet political police and while thus employed, loyally conducted on Stalin’s behalf the great purges of 1937/38 in which more than 750,000 people were liquidated. He was removed from the picture after Stalin decided Russians must believe that he personally had nothing to do with the purges. He was also arrested, tortured and executed. (Waste no sympathy upon him. He was a horrible person.)The thing is that clipping him out of history required a dedicated department in 1938. Today it would take about five seconds with Photoshop. And with the well-recorded advances of artificial intelligence, anybody who wants to, can produce realistic videos of people saying and doing things they would never do. Check out this deep-fake of former US president Barack Obama. That was five years ago. How technology has moved since then.So how does anybody know what’s true, anymore? The short answer is that if it sounds unlikely, you should check it out.However, that’s not so easy any more.What if your online source has been ‘fixed'? Or has simply disappeared? It’s not that hard, after all, for the owner of a PDF to pull it down and substitute a revised version. Or, to simply remove something that’s no longer considered by agenda-driven people, to be acceptable or on-message. And while there are ways to retrieve deleted files, most people aren’t going to bother. In the culture wars, the answer is hard copy. If it’s going to matter, print it off. And, if what’s important to you is in a book, hang on to the book, as Tucker Carlson argues.Propaganda has never been easier. Definitions change. The present government of Canada is a case in point. The prime minister would like Canadians to believe carbon dioxide is pollution and makes constant reference to it as such. No, carbon dioxide is plant food and if you went to school 20 years ago, that’s what you were taught. For the sake of politics, it’s now the planet killer.It helps to have an old encyclopaedia: Online encyclopaedias may be rewritten. The paper variety can only be stolen, a la Fahrenheit 451. (Luckily, we're not quite there yet.)And history can not only be rewritten Stalin-style, but just removed. Woke school librarians are cleaning out the shelves, sweeping away what matters along with what perhaps matters not so much. In Ontario, even Anne Frank’s Diary fell victim to a woke equity purge, before Education Minister Stephen Lecce told them not to be damn fools. (My summary of what he said, rather than his precise words.)And books are disappearing. I chatted recently with Dave Sigla, who runs a second-hand bookshop in downtown Calgary. He said, "Between fewer people wanting books and libraries getting rid of what's not wanted any more, they're going to the tip by the dumpster load."Not all old books are good books. And old books rather obviously, don't contain new knowledge. If you want the latest on the far side of Mars, that's going to be hot off the press. Nevertheless, if you're anxious we're losing our bearings and that a lot of things are proclaimed as real truth, that just ain't so, one small step anybody can take is to get the book, print the article, save the PDF... just in case it's not there when you want it.