Maybe I just don't get it

Aug. 19th, 2014 01:53 pm
[personal profile] yendi
I'm getting lots of email from my alma mater about my twentieth reunion.

And I'm just a tad baffled.

I kind of get high school reunions; if you liked the people you went to school with, why not catch up with them after all these years? I've never had a huge interest in it, but I do get it (and am vaguely considering my 25th next year, mainly because it's reasonably easy to hop a bus to NYC).

But college was never about the people who graduated in 1994. Sure, some of them were my friends, but at college, you take classes with kids from all four years, you often room with them, and friendships form around clubs, events, etc. Other than my freshman hall, I never once had a group that was only folks in my class, and my freshman hall was 75% douches who joined fraternities and embodied the second through tenth worst stereotypes thereof. I had friends who were two or three years older than me, and ones who were freshmen when I was a senior. That's a range of six or seven years. Why would I want to go back to only see a chunk of those people?

Also, hi. We live in the age of the internet. I know exactly how about 80% of the folks I remember from college are doing. Including most of the folks from my freshman hall that I liked (and too many of the ones I didn't).

So why, exactly, would I want to pay hundreds to travel back to campus, see maybe fifteen people (if I'm lucky) that I actually remember, and not see almost anyone I actually give a shit about? Any why is this a huge thing in general? I mean, if you went to a fucking huge school like Michigan, why in the world would you travel back, when the odds of even seeing those folks from your class would be smaller than mine?

Special Visitors

Aug. 18th, 2014 03:28 pm
[syndicated profile] aotus_feed

Posted by David Ferriero

Tracy Bray contacted us recently and wondered if she could bring her father and family for a special visit to the National Archives in Washington.  It was a surprise for her father, Harry Edward Neal Jr.  The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution have special meaning to all of us and especially to the Neal family.  Mr. Neal’s father, Harry Edward Neal, was the Secret Service Agent in charge of getting those precious parchments into protective custody at Fort Knox during World War II.

Photo of Harry Edward Neal

Photo of Harry Edward Neal

The Charters had not yet been transferred to the National Archives and were housed at the Library of Congress.  Other documents slated for this secret mission included The Gutenberg Bible, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural and Gettysburg Addresses, and the Lincoln Cathedral copy of the Magna Carta which had been on display at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City.

Agent Neal’s detailed report to Frank J. Wilson, Chief of the Secret Service, is fascinating.  An armored truck “under suitable guard” moved the material from the Library of Congress Annex to Union Station where a drawing room and adjoining compartments on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad train leaving at 6:30 p.m. on the 26th of December 1941.

A wonderful letter from then Librarian of Congress, Archibald MacLeish, captured the emotion of the moment in his letter … [ Read all ]

owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
[personal profile] owlectomy
So, here are some things I hear from liberal-ish people about libraries:

"Libraries aren't really relevant anymore because so much information is on the internet."

"I go to the library, but they never have what I want, and there are always homeless people sleeping at the tables."

"I used to use the library a lot, but these days I don't. I just use Google."

I sympathize with all of this! I would say it about myself, basically! If I did not go to the library every week for work, I am sure I would find it more convenient to buy the e-book of everything I wanted to read -- which would be kind of expensive, but not prohibitively so; I'm not a book-a-day reader -- and not even have to deal with lots of paper books piling up around my home.

(I'm glad for the library because I read a lot of books I expect to feel only lukewarm towards for my committee, and I definitely wouldn't want to pay full price for those even at e-book prices, but if I didn't have a library job then I would read fewer of those!)

The thing is, library funding existed for a long time on a Social Security-like model. Everyone pays into it, everyone benefits from it, so it's really popular even though some people benefit much more than others. Everyone pays a little; everyone gets to borrow books; and even if you can afford the new Danielle Steel hardcover, you know it's not really something you'd pay $25 for, so you're happy to be able to borrow it for free (even if you're #123 on the hold list.)

I think it's harder now to make that argument, because the same book you wouldn't pay $25 for is often one that you would pay $10.99 for, especially when you don't have to deal with the library's wait list and limited opening hours, or even deal with going outside. I think a lot of middle-class people who aren't really voracious readers perceive -- not incorrectly, necessarily! -- that they don't get as much from the library as they put into it. And maybe the only way to advocate library funding, when you start from there, is to make an argument the same way you'd argue for welfare -- from either a noblesse-oblige standpoint, or a pure utilitarian standpoint of "we'll all be better off if lower-income people are more able to apply for jobs online, and study for the GED, and take ESOL classes, and read books."

The flip side of that is that as soon as you talk about libraries being for poor people, rather than libraries being for everybody, there starts to be a question of controlling what information you think poor people deserve to have access to. Like when people go off about people buying soda or organic beans with food stamps. And I suspect that the end result would be a lot less popular fiction on the shelves because it's not "useful" or "improving" enough.

I get a twinge of feeling disrespected when I see library director jobs that aren't full-time, that don't even require a Bachelor's degree, that kind of pay enough to live on, and certainly I'm worried about the deprofessionalization of library jobs, but when I start thinking about how you even advocate for library funding when my friends don't go to the library... that's when I get really worried.

(I don't want to open up a can of worms about how library competence isn't measured in terms of a degree. But if you think that you're going to get a good library director for $15 / hr, 20 hours a week, then you are hoping for a miracle or a doormat. Or a miracle doormat.)
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

Every Day is an Atheist Holiday
Every Day is an Atheist Holiday by Penn Jillette
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you are put off by profanity or sexual talk, don’t even think about picking up this book of essays. Penn simply cannot go for more than two pages (on average) without the f-word or a reference to his privates and/or a sex act.

But if you can set aside your visceral reactions to the tenor of this book, it has some very interesting reflections on fatherhood, marriage, reality TV, blackmail, professional partnerships, stage magic and religion. I’d rather have a hundred Penns in Congress, turning the Congressional Record into something delivered in a plain brown wrapper, than one more Ted Cruz or Michelle Bachmann.

I’d give this book four stars if it wasn’t for the relentless profanity. To which, I’m willing to bet Penn would say F-You with a smile.

View all my reviews

Filed under: Uncategorized
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

Armchair astronomers rejoice! I have updated my Astronomy by Internet page. The latest update introduces a new Solar System object – the Earth. 

The first project to appear here is Dark Skies ISS, a project posted by a Spanish led research team to the Crowdcrafting site, a site I wasn’t aware of until I read about on the NASA web site. 

From the project page:

Right now there are around 1,800,000 images at the Johnson Space Center database (The Gateway of the Astronauts). Around 1,200,000 images were taken aboard the ISS (date 02/20/2014). However, the number of classified images is much smaller, and there is no archive of georeferenced images. There is already a project to classify the daytime images (Image detective), but the techniques used in that project are not useful for the classification of nighttime images. The patterns on Earth are not the same during the day and night, which is why another technique is needed to classify these nighttime images.


Our main objective is to study light pollution that comes from cities. We want to stop the waste of energy and the destruction of the mighty ecosystem.


Your collaboration is really important because algorithms cannot distinguish between stars, cities, and other objects (i.e. moon). Thus, we need your help to assess the light pollution in our world!


For more information, please contact or Twitter handle: @cities4tnight.

Also you can contribute on our other apps Lost at night (find unlocated images) and NightCitiesISS(Georeference known cities).

I find Dark Skies ISS to be beautiful and sort of relaxing. And I’m contributing to mapping light pollution. A good deal for all sides. Consider giving it a whirl. If you know of other citizen/layperson science projects involving an astronomy theme, drop me a line. 

Filed under: astronomy Tagged: earth, light pollution
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
The 369th Infantry Regiment. The 15th New York National Guard. The Men of Bronze. The Black Rattlers. The Harlem Hellfighters. They went by many names, the 2,000 black American soldiers, inspired by musician James “Big Jim” Reese Europe, who made history in World War I. They are the subject of a handsome new biography, written by J. Patrick Lewis, former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate, and illustrated by acclaimed artist Gary Kelley. Harlem Hellfighters will be on shelves next week.

The Giver Gives Back

Aug. 15th, 2014 12:21 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
“If the Giver movie sucks,” declared my sister-in-law’s friend, age about 30, “I will burn myself alive.”

[REQUEST] Journal of Fandom Studies

Aug. 14th, 2014 09:23 pm
[syndicated profile] fanhackers_feed

Posted by fanhackers

Hi! I would like the following articles for a research project, if anyone can share them:

Booth, Paul.  Augmenting fan/academic dialogue: New directions in fan research. Journal of Fandom Studies. Vol 1 No 2.

Bennett, Lucy. Tracing Textual Poachers: Reflections on the development of fan studies and digital fandom. Journal of Fandom Studies. Vol 2 No 1.

Hills, Matt.  Doctor Who’s textual commemorators: Fandom, collective memory and the self-commodification of fanfac. Journal of Fandom Studies. Vol 2 No 1.

Ford, Sam.  Fan studies: Grappling with an ‘Undisciplined’ discipline. Journal of Fandom Studies. Vol 2 No 1.

Coppa, Francesca. Fuck Yeah, Fandom is Beautiful.  Journal of Fandom Studies. Vol 2 No 1.

Anyone have these? Please leave a comment!


Tags: , , , , ,

Revenge of the Ghost

Aug. 14th, 2014 06:34 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
“You know all those Japanese horror movies that came out not too long ago, like The Ring? Well, they’re all based on her story. She’s the Patient Zero for undead Japanese women with long hair and pale faces, so to speak.”
[syndicated profile] library_tech_jester_feed

Posted by Peter Murray

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Welcome to the revival of DLTJ Thursday Threads. With the summer over and the feeling of renewal towards this blog and its topics, I’m happy to be back sharing tidbits of technology that I hope you will find interesting. Today’s set of threads covers the gnarly security issues behind the bright-and-shiny chip-on-payment card systems being rolled out by banks and retailers in the U.S., a list of resources for checking things that you read about online, and a heads-up on changes to how your phone will work in the near future.

Feel free to send this to others you think might be interested in the topics. If you find these threads interesting and useful, you might want to add the Thursday Threads RSS Feed to your feed reader or subscribe to e-mail delivery using the form to the right. If you would like a more raw and immediate version of these types of stories, watch my Pinboard bookmarks (or subscribe to its feed in your feed reader). Items posted to are also sent out as tweets; you can follow me on Twitter. Comments and tips, as always, are welcome.

That Chip in your Credit Card May Not Be as Secure as Your Bank Hopes

According to new research, chip-based “Smartcard” credit and debit cards—the next-generation replacement for magnetic stripe cards—are vulnerable to unanticipated hacks and financial fraud. Stricter security measures are needed, the researchers say, as well as increased awareness of changing terms-of-service that could make consumers bear more of the financial brunt for their hacked cards.

- Black Hat 2014: A New Smartcard Hack, by Mark Anderson, IEEE Spectrum, August 7, 2014

Although U.S. banks are issuing EMV cards now, it will be some time before they start to see a reduction in fraud.

- EMV: Why Payment Systems Fail [postprint, pdf] by Ross Anderson and Steven J. Murdoch, Communications of the ACM, June 2014

The first quote comes from an article that covers a presentation made at this year’s Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. The presenter at Black Hat is also a co-author of the Communications article. The first article gives an overview of some of the problems with the EMV system (an acronym for “Europay-Mastercard-Visa” — the three companies promoting the chip-on-payment-card system). For the real gory details, read the second article.

The bottom line is this, though — payment cards with chips are coming to U.S. The big Target data breach from last year only accelerated plans already in place to bring this technology to U.S. consumers. Banks may try to say that you, the consumer, are responsible for any charges made with your card and your PIN because this whole system has been set up to make sure only someone with the card and the PIN could have authorized the charge. As with many things dealing with computer security, reality is not quite so clear cut, so I recommend keeping an eye on this topic as the EMV system rolls out in the U.S.

A Recourse for Information Literacy

This document is a resource for assessing the accuracy or veracity of online information, organized under a number of headings. The objective of the resource is to improve the digital lives of individuals and to improve the quality of the online commons by increasing the number of people who know how to separate good info from bad info. It began as a chapter for my 2012 book, Net Smart: How to Thrive Online.

This one crossed my Twitter stream as a retweet from someone else. Author Howard Rheingold has put together a list of places to go to, well, exercise your crap detection skills. With headings for “Political” and “Urban Legends, Hoaxes, and Emails” and “Journalism”, it is a resource that you may want to keep close-at-hand for checking into those things that sound too good to be true. The author also takes comments from others in the document, so it is a living document of contributions from others.

The Subsumption of Voice into IP Networks Continues

What in fact is really going on…is that this is the iceberg tip of a massive paradigm shift away from analog calling, at every level across the board. It’s not just a shift from PSTN, or Public Switched Telephone Network, in favor of IP-based calling, either. PSTN is the old-school wireline circuit that uses copper wires for analog voice. Half of residential U.S. wireline service is VoIP, according to a recent FCC report.But all calling, including mobile, is going IP.

- How cellphone calling is going all Internet, by Patrick Nelson, Network World, August 1, 2014

Sure, we have Skype and FaceTime and some have VoIP (Voice-over-IP) phones on our desks. But the world just now getting to the point where VoIP is the way voice calls are made. In this opinion piece, the author outlines the many ways that voice calls are switching from circuit-switched to packet-switched right down to the devices we hold in our hands. (On medium- and long-haul phone circuits, that changeover happened long ago.) If done the right way, you won’t notice the change — except that your calls may be clearer and higher quality.

My Afternoon with Bacall

Aug. 13th, 2014 09:12 pm
[syndicated profile] aotus_feed

Posted by David Ferriero

As the Director of the New York Public Libraries I once had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with Lauren Bacall to pitch the NYPL Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center as the repository for her papers.  Accompanying Bob Taylor, then Chief of the Theatre Collection at LPA, we visited her at her home in The Dakota.  To this day, I am torn about which was more exciting—meeting Bacall or being in The Dakota!

Lauren Bacall and Harry Truman

Actress Lauren Bacall sits atop a piano while Vice President Harry S. Truman plays the piano at the National Press Club Canteen. They are at the canteen to entertain the servicemen. February 10, 1945.
Series: Photographs Relating to the Administration, Family, and Personal Life of Harry S. Truman, 1957-2004, NARA ID 198606.

Overlooking Central Park, we sat in her bookcase lined living room, discussing her career and family and her collection.  The bookcases were filled with leather bound volumes—one each for every play, movie, or performance of her life!  Each volume contained an annotated script, newspaper reviews, Playbill, etc.  Her collection was so well organized that it was an archivist/librarian’s dream!  Bob was eloquent in pitching LPA as the appropriate place for the collection given her attitudes about Los Angeles and how New York had become so important to her life.  I remember pitching the contribution to scholarship that the … [ Read all ]

Take a look, it's in a linkdump!

Aug. 13th, 2014 03:12 pm
[personal profile] yendi
General reminder: Most of my pop culture/political links these days are over at my @Tsalmoth twitter account (which also contains a decent amount of puns, assuming you think any amount of puns greater than zero can be decent), while my tech/education/accessibility ones are at my @yendi account. Both (along with Facebook wall links) are aggregated into my Pinboard account. But sometimes I like to write a little more about the links.

1. Uber uses dirty tricks to cost Lyft (and Lyft drivers) money. Just some nasty tactics, especially for a company that's billing itself as a bullied underdog. Probably a good reminder that few companies are anything but, well, companies. They'll play the underdog card when they're fighting someone bigger, but are happy to use the same tactics themselves.

2. In defense of black rage. I haven't blogged about Ferguson (because I haven't blogged about anything in weeks), but I've watched the anger on Twitter, and it's palpable and justifiable in light of the police actions there. As a white person, I know that the police have no interest in harassing me because of my race, and I have no chance of being detained, arrested, or killed for walking while being black. I'd sure love to see some of the folks who generally distrust the government and the police on principal actually get half as upset about real police actions like this. Related: America is Not For Black People.

3. The Whole "Veronica Mars" Gang Is Coming Back For A New Web Series. I question their use of "fan favorite" in reference to Dick Casablancas; I think Ryan Hansen is legitimately a fan favorite (and his work on the criminally underrated and dumped Bad Teacher did nothing to disprove this), but Dick is, well, a dick. And, well, someone who egged on and effectively aided and abetted a rapist. But I'm happy to watch Hansen and the rest of the cast (although also a little creeped out by the choice of Ryan Devlin to replace Teddy Dunn.

4. The history of pro wrestling as it relates to capitalism in the 20th century. Great piece, written with a thorough knowledge of the industry.

5. Alyssa Rosenberg writes on how to not talk about the politics of culture. Rosenberg is one of my favorite pop culture writers, and her new home at the Washington Post is well worth visiting.

What ARIA does not do

Aug. 13th, 2014 10:15 am
[syndicated profile] paciello_a11y_feed

Posted by Steve Faulkner

ARIA is a set of attributes that can be added to HTML elements (and other markup languages) to communicate accessibility role, state, name and properties which are exposed by browsers via platform accessibility APIs. This provides a common, interoperable method of relaying the information to assistive technologies. That’s it. It is the same method used by browsers to convey the inbuilt (or default) accessibility information of native HTML features. The difference being that authors can wire up this information for themselves in the DOM using ARIA, before they could not.

A simple example of what ARIA does and does not do:

ARIA does not magically make any element act differently to what it is,  it only provides a method to make it appear as something else to assistive technology users. For example, in the sample code below, the ARIA role attribute makes the  <div> appear as a link to  assistive technology. Developers must provide the substance to the semantics conveyed using ARIA, otherwise users are confronted with a UI masquerade.

<div role="link">poot</div>
<a href="...">poot</a>
feature role=”link” <a href=”…”>
conveys role to accessibility API yes yes
conveys accessible name to accessibility API yes yes
keyboard support (focus) no yes
keyboard support (operation) no yes
element specific context menu no yes
default visual semantics (e.g. underlining) no yes


(no subject)

Aug. 12th, 2014 02:01 pm
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
[personal profile] sanguinity
Who knew "just an elopement" would require this much in the way of logistics? (Everyone who is not us, I imagine.)

So very, very glad that we decided to not try for a "proper" wedding. We are so not cut out for that kind of thing. I mean, really.

(no subject)

Aug. 12th, 2014 12:20 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
Some people are reporting having trouble reaching the site, especially from the UK/EU. Unfortunately, after looking into it, it seems to be an internet routing problem and not something we can fix on our end. Hang tight; our hosting service is pretty good at working around those sorts of problems pretty quickly.

Holmes With a Heart

Aug. 11th, 2014 06:20 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
“But that’s Jackaby in a nutshell. Science and magic, beauty and bedlam, things that ought to be at odds—they just don’t follow the same rules when Jackaby’s involved. For all his faults, he really is a remarkable man.”
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