[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

The New Horizons spacecraft will fly by Pluto and its moons July 13/14, 2015, capturing the first ever close-up images of the Pluto system. The first close-up image of Pluto will be released on July 15. What will the world think the first time we see this image? What will you think? We want to know. Simply tweet the first thought(s) that comes to your mind when you see this first, historic image of Pluto.

via Pluto’s First Close-Up: What will be your #PlutoRXN (reaction)? | What’s New.

You won’t need clear or dark skies to see the first truly close up pictures of Pluto EVER. Just check your computer on July 15th. Then share your reaction.

Filed under: astronomy, space exploration Tagged: pluto

Secrets Beneath the Ash

Jul. 6th, 2015 05:39 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
On the 10th anniversary of her father’s death, Claire Takata discovers that her mother and her stepfather—the man that she and her brothers have been calling "Dad" for almost as long as they can remember—have been lying to them for years. It turns out that not only did her father and her stepfather know each other, but they knew each other well—so why, when she asks flat-out, is she met with lies and deception? And why would they have lied in the first place?

Daniel José Older

Jul. 6th, 2015 05:58 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Summer’s hot promise is in the air when I arrive at Alice’s Arbor to meet Daniel José Older. Situated in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, it’s a welcoming bistro where the relaxed staff is glad to let you be part of the understated vibe, a good thing since I just might want to listen to Older talk for hours over endless iced tea. The neighborhood of Bed-Stuy is the anchoring setting of his debut teen novel, Shadowshaper. “The impulse for the book came from loving Harry Potter and loving Octavia Butler, and I wanted to put those things together,” says Older, which pretty much makes the setting of this interview akin to meeting J.K. Rowling at Platform 9 3/4.
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

What color is Pluto? The answer, revealed in the first maps made from New Horizons data, turns out to be shades of reddish brown. Although this is reminiscent of Mars, the cause is almost certainly very different. On Mars the coloring agent is iron oxide, commonly known as rust. On the dwarf planet Pluto, the reddish color is likely caused by hydrocarbon molecules that are formed when cosmic rays and solar ultraviolet light interact with methane in Pluto’s atmosphere and on its surface.

via Pluto: The ‘Other’ Red Planet | NASA.

New Horizons is a NASA probe launched years ago when Pluto was still the ninth planet. It will make it’s closet approach on Tuesday July 14th, but we’re already learning new things and confirming previous suspicions. Somehow I had missed that Pluto is red like Mars, but for different reasons.

I had thought to take July 14th off, but after reviewing the list of announced media activities, decided not to. No flyby images will be released that day. It looks like New Horizons will send a “I made it!” signal expected to be received around 4:15pm Alaska Time on July 14th, so I will look for that. As of this writing, flyby images are expected to be released sometime in the afternoon of the July 15th. Tune into NASA television when that happens.  I’ll let you know if I hear about a more precise time for the image release.

In terms of space exploration, I think it’s a good time to be alive.

Filed under: astronomy, space exploration Tagged: pluto

Love Wins

Jul. 3rd, 2015 11:44 pm
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
I took the train west to Open Source Bridge and AlterConf, crossing in and out of states that supported or prohibited same-sex marriage. And then, a week ago, the Supreme Court's ruling changed that landscape. I crossed a freer country, on my way back home.

Nine years ago I wrote a now-obsolete newspaper column asking how long the waiting period would have to be. I am so glad that period is over. Consider reading the full opinion, and the dissents.

Cats and Ponies and Pigs, Oh My

Jul. 3rd, 2015 12:38 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
I’ve got a wee menagerie in my picture-book round-up this week—pigs, cats, ponies. If you’re looking for other creatures, you’ll have to look elsewhere, but these are three books that won’t let you down.
[syndicated profile] diceytillerman_feed
If you have or know young kids who have a loved one who is in prison, or if you have or know young kids who know other kids who do, or if you have young kids in your life who you want to know that some kids go through this, I'd like to recommend Jacqueline Woodson's picture book Visiting Day. James E. Ransome illustrates it in rich acrylic paintings. The cover looks like this. This book is warm, loving, serious, and layered. It has sweetness and it has mournfulness. Ransome does a lot of that, using visible brush strokes and stark value contrasts, and painting complex and nuanced emotions into his characters' faces and bodies.

In her author's note, Woodson mentions her beloved Uncle Robert, who went to prison when she was young. There's more about Uncle Robert in her 2014 verse novel Brown Girl Dreaming, which, if you haven't read yet, you should. It's a gorgeous middle-grade book that's also friendly to teens and adults. Get it. Get them both.

Choosing a Little Red Riding Hood

Jul. 3rd, 2015 06:21 am
[syndicated profile] diceytillerman_feed
There are so very many picture book versions. Over many years, I've been trying to look at as many as possible. I'm quite fond of this particular one: Little Red Riding Hood by Jerry Pinkney. Just look at this art: Cover. LRRH when the wolf is in bed. This blogger has scanned in many of the pages very large.

Day 1: Celebrating Marriage Equality

Jul. 2nd, 2015 04:02 am
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall


My “Write Every Day” process hit a snag in June. I traveled twice. Once to Anchorage on business for a week and a vacation/American Library Association business in San Francisco. I find it hard to write from the road, so I let my streak lapse.

Today we resume with the photo above. The American Library Association Annual Conference coincided with Pride Week in San Francisco. The picture above is from a bar in San Francisco’s Mission District the day that the US Supreme Court proclaimed marriage equality the law of the land. The mood everywhere we went that night was jubilant. So many people were so happy. The mood continued throughout the weekend. It was a great place to be regardless of sexual orientation.

I felt privileged to be there and happy that the Court found that any two consenting adults could marry. I firmly believe that is the right choice in a secular society.

Filed under: current events Tagged: marriage equality
[syndicated profile] nara_feed

Posted by usnationalarchives

Today’s post comes from Suzanne Isaacs of the Digital Public Access Branch in the Office of Innovation. 

Recently I met Alex Smith through an email he sent to catalog@nara.gov. Through our correspondence I learned that he began transcribing our records as a retirement project. I was really interested in transcription through the eyes of a Citizen Archivist and Mr. Smith was kind enough to answer my questions.

If you would like to become a Citizen Archivist and tag, transcribe, subtitle or upload and share visit http://www.archives.gov/citizen-archivist/

Tell us a little about yourself – What did you do before retirement?


I was a college administrator before retirement. For 30 years I was the registrar at Susquehanna University (so on a small scale I am used to dealing with records), and prior to that I was the director of continuing education. I received a B.A. in English at Bowdoin College and an M. A. in English at the University of Chicago. I have always loved history, but I have never done much work involving primary documents before.


How did you find out about transcription in the National Archives’ Catalog?

Late last year I read a brief newspaper article about the transcription project (I think that it was in the New York Times arts and entertainment section), and it immediately got my attention. Like many people on the verge of retirement, I was increasingly concerned about how I was going to handle the void created by no longer having to go to the office, and this project seemed fascinating to me. It really appeared to be an ideal option – I could do it from home or from the library at whatever pace I chose, I had the opportunity to pursue topics that interested me (a common question I get from friends is “Do they send you documents to transcribe?” and I explain that the transcriber is in complete control of finding whatever material which he or she would like to do, whether it’s Al Capone, Harry Truman’s diary, or First Ladies’ recipes. The same flexibility pertains to the length of the document. If I have a quarter of an hour of free time with no particular way to fill it, I can log on and transcribe a telegram or a couple of menus or one of the index cards for the Office of Indian Affairs and have a sense of productivity rather than of having just wasted time), if I needed to take time off for a vacation or for family matters I would not inconvenience anyone, and the project allowed me to go on learning (and in an entertaining manner at that). When I logged in for the first time this June I found that the reality was even better than my expectations had been.

How many have you transcribed?

According to the My Account feature which your website has, I have entered 576 documents during the month of June, which is the first month I have worked on this project.

How do you select your records for transcription? Do you have a favorite subject area?

When I started I thought that I was going to select records by favorite topics (e.g. I have a long-standing interest in the Titanic, so I entered that as one of my first topics). However, I have found that one of the major pleasures of this process to me is coming upon the unknown. I began by entering the topic “telegram,” since I thought that most telegrams would be relatively short and in printed form, so they would be a good choice for easing my way into transcription. In the course of transcribing telegrams, I came across one from prohibition agents in the 1920’s, and it made me curious about their work so I entered “prohibition.” This led to an intriguing series of documents from a couple of agents who were investigating the seemingly corrupt mayor of Tacoma Washington, who appeared comically inept at defending himself against their questions. Another telegram came from Cordell Hull, in whom my father had had an interest, so I entered Cordell Hull’s name as a topic and found a large number of letters between Hull and Franklin Roosevelt. For me the process has become sort of like those lucky-dip booths which they used to have at county fairs, where you threw a fishing line behind a screen and discovered what surprise prize you pulled out. I enter names of public figures from books I have been reading (e.g. Jeffrey Frank’s study of the relationship between Nixon and Eisenhower led me to enter Sherman Adams, John Bricker, Meade Alcorn, and Ann Whitman, among others), but sometimes now I will just enter a first or last name like “Edith” or “Chapman” and see what sort of documents appear. Similarly, I will enter a broad topic like “family” or “tax” or “execution” or “treason” and see which of the results most interests me. This makes sure there is a lot of variety in the process and keeps my interest level high.

You mention you’ve convinced friends to start transcribing too. What do you tell them? We’d love to hear your pitch!

I honestly don’t have a pitch which has recruited others to the site. The process really seems to sell itself to my friends who are in my age group. I just start telling them enthusiastically about the sort of things I am discovering in the archives and they get intrigued. I say that I have transcribed a telegram of congratulations to Jack Kennedy on getting the Democratic presidential nomination from Harpo Marx, who wrote, “1. Congratulations. 2. Do you need a harp player in your cabinet?” I tell them that I have transcribed the WWI draft registration documents for Ty Cobb and Fred Astaire, a petition to Woodrow Wilson from Jane Addams protesting the deportation of Emmeline Pankhurst, the FBI interview with Jack Ruby’s sister, the last telegram to the Secretary of State from the Saigon Embassy saying, “We’re evacuating at midnight,” some of Alger Hiss’s deposition (he probably was unwise in closing with “I believe my record in government and outside speaks for itself.” ), and the correspondence from the mayor of Kent, Ohio asking the Ohio National Guard for assistance in quelling the student protests, which includes the unfortunate phrase “I leave the mode and means of execution to your discretion.” Even seemingly dry documents may include a happy surprise. After the flu pandemic of 1919 the U. S. Navy came up with a list of recommendations to prevent contagion. In among the usual statements about staying in well-ventilated areas and not coughing in public was the injunction “Don’t expectorate promiscuously.” Hearing about such things seems to make the past more vivid and to intrigue some of my friends, who become interested in finding out what they might discover among the tens of thousands of documents to be transcribed. There also is an interest in seeing what indeed qualifies as a historical document. When I was talking with our university archivist about my surprise at finding scores of Bess Truman’s menus in the archives, she quickly told me that these could be very interesting to a historian in a couple hundred years in the same way that the university archivist would really love to know the daily menus of Martha Washington or Abigail Adams.

The other appeal to my recently retired friends is the chance to do something useful. Retirement gives many opportunities for leisure pleasure – reading, gardening, travel – and for helping with family activities. What many of us who are retired lack, however, unless we are active in civic or church groups, is any sense of worthwhile activity beyond the realm of the family. If our jobs have been important to us, this is a serious loss, and I think that finding a sense of purpose becomes one of the major challenges of old age. A couple of the people who have expressed an interest in this project were quite explicit about the pleasure it would give them to be doing something that matters for an organization as important as the National Archives.

O, Canada

Jul. 1st, 2015 12:26 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
The bees are buzzing, the summer winds are soughing, so it must be time for that annual celebration of national identity: Canada Day. Although Canadians typically don’t make as much noise as we Americans do, I have found that they make excellent books, and this year is no exception. Join me for a quick tour.

Rocket Is Back!

Jun. 30th, 2015 09:41 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Adorable Rocket the dog and his many pals (including a moonlighting Goose) are returning in R Is for Rocket: An ABC Book, out on July 7. Author Tad Hills explains a bit about Rocket and his friends in this irresistible new video. We feel so sorry for Goose, who finds walking a little difficult. Check out Tad Hills’ new video!
[syndicated profile] w3c_dpub_ig_feed

Posted by Ivan Herman

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions. (The headers below link into the relevant sections of the minutes.)

Update on the Annotation WG

Ivan Herman gave an update on the progress in the Annotation WG.

The group started with an input document provided by the Open Annotation Community Group. They had a specification for a data model, i.e., how to store annotations, what their structure is, etc. Their specification has been essentially re-published as a Working Draft, and we are continuing work on it. The biggest difference is that the CG document had all its example in the Turtle language, whereas the WG’s document includes both Turtle and JSON-LD. This is because, while the CG was strongly Linked Data oriented, i.e., Turtle was fine, the WG’s target is at Web Developers who feel more comfortable with JSON.

Next step is to transfer annotations through the network; for that, the Web Annotation Protocol has been developed. This document is in a fairly good shape, it will be published as a WD soon. It is actually a specialization of an existing W3C Recommendation, called Linked Data Protocol (LDP) which is good, because there are already implementation that can be reused, for example.

The final piece, soon to be an official Draft, is the RangeFinder API. This is a (JavaScript) API specification to find ranges of text or DOM nodes in a document, i.e., to be able to “anchor” of finding a text that may not have its own @id attribute, whose context may change, etc. This document is an API, i.e., aimed at developers; however, as part of the group’s goals we will also discuss a ‘serialization’ of that, i.e., a possibility to define a URI (more exactly, a fragment identifier) using the RangeFinder concepts.

There are also some other issues that may be discussed in the group, though the work has not really started yet. This includes a possible Client side API (i.e., an API whereby Javascript developers could handle annotations on a higher level, hiding the details of the data model), or a HTML based serialization. The latter could be used in a client to add such elements into the DOM tree; since it’s in terms of the DOM, it can be styled easily in general—which is probably something very useful. Whether that would use existing HTML elements, or whether it would require an extension to HTML is still to be discussed.

There are some overlaps between the DPUB IG’s and the Annotation WG’s membership, which is a good thing.

It was noted that the annotation WG’s further use cases could also be very useful for this group, and more regular contacts would be good.

CSS Prioritization

Dave Cramer has begun a spreadsheet listing some of the CSS features that are important for the Publishing Community and that are not fully covered by the CSS work. (There is also a textual version which will, eventually, possibly merge with the latinreq document.) Eventually, this document should be communicated with the CSS Working Group to synchronize the needs and priorities. The group (and everybody) is encouraged providing comments, adding their wish lists, etc, to this document.

A question arose around footnotes and why they are not of a higher priorities; but the problem is that there is no real consensus within the digital publishing community on what the optimal approach handling those would be, i.e., how that should reflected in CSS. There were also discussion on how to include MathML related features into the document; there are clearly missing features (like aligning equations vertically on a specific character).

There was a longer discussion on the discrepancy between browsers and reading systems on the level of control they provide to end users in terms of styling (fonts, character size, etc). CSS had the notion of user stylesheet, which pretty much disappeared from browsers, and it is also not sure that is the right level of control; further discussion is needed on how that would translate into CSS.

It was also agreed that the document should strictly separate those features that do exist in a CSS spec, but are poorly implemented, from those features that don’t exist in specification (and should). It was agreed that the table would be extended accordingly (e.g., looking at what XSL-FO has, or what systems like Antenna House implements for publishers).

Finally the issue of efficiency was also addressed (like, e.g., the blog on the subject) that is indeed a problem, although it is difficult to see what this Interest Group or indeed the CSS WG could do about it.

Small changes on the white paper

Ivan Herman also reported that the draft version of the EPUB+WEB have been updated to reflect a recent discussion on caching and resulting architectural principles; it would be good to get the relevant section reviewed as soon as possible, because the changes may have effects on the new charter, too.

[syndicated profile] w3c_dpub_ig_feed

Posted by Ivan Herman

(Reproduced from the “central” W3C blog.)

Time flies… it has almost been two years since the Digital Publishing Interest Group started its work. Lot has happened in those two years; the group

  • has published a report on the Annotation Use Cases (which contributed to the establishment of a separate Web Annotation Working Group);
  • has conducted a series of interviews (and published a report) with some of the main movers and shakers of metadata in the Publishing Industry;
  • is working with the WAI Protocols and Format Working Group to create a separate vocabulary describing document structures using the ARIA 1.1 technology (and thereby making an extra step towards a better accessibility of Digital Publishing);
  • maintains a document on Requirement for Latin Text Layout and Pagination, which is also used in discussion with other W3C groups on setting the priorities on specific technologies;
  • made an assessment of the various Web Accessibility Guidelines (especially the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) from the point of view of the Publishing Industry, and plans to document which guidelines are relevant (or not) for that community and which use cases are not yet adequately covered;
  • established a reference wiki page listing the important W3C specifications for the Publishing Industry (by the way, that list is not only public, but can also be edited by anybody with a valid W3C account);
  • has conducted a series of interviews with representatives of STEM Publishing and is currently busy analyzing the results;
  • commented on a number of W3C drafts and ongoing works (in CSS, Internationalization, etc.) to get the the voice of the Publishing Industry adequately heard.

However, the most important result of these two years is the fact that the Interest Group contributed in setting up, at last, a stable and long term contacts between the Web and the Publishing Industries. Collaboration now exist with IDPF (on, e.g., the development of EPUB 3.1 or in the EDUPUB Initiative), with BISG (on, e.g., accessibility issues), and contacts with other organizations (e.g., Readium, IDAlliance, or EDItEUR) have also been established.

The group has also contributed significantly to a vision on the future of Digital Publishing, formalized by experts in IDPF and W3C and currently called “EPUB+WEB”. The vision has been described in a White Paper; its short summary can be summarized as:

[…]portable documents become fully native citizens of the Open Web Platform. In this vision, the current format- and workflow-level separation between offline/portable (EPUB) and online (Web) document publishing is diminished to zero. These are merely two dynamic manifestations of the same publication: content authored with online use as the primary mode can easily be saved by the user for offline reading in portable document form. Content authored primarily for use as a portable document can be put online, without any need for refactoring the content. […] Essential features flow seamlessly between online and offline modes; examples include cross-references, user annotations, access to online databases, as well as licensing and rights management.

But, as I said, time flies: this also means that the Interest Group has to be re-chartered. This is always a time when the group can reflect on what has gone well and what should be changed. The group has therefore also contributed to its new, draft charter. Of course, according to this draft, most of the current activities (e.g., on document structures or accessibility) will continue. However, the work will also be greatly influenced by the vision expressed in the EPUB+WEB White Paper. This vision should serve as a framework for the group’s activities. In particular, the specific technical challenges in realizing this vision are to be identified, relevant use cases should be worked out. Although the Interest Group is not chartered to define W3C Recommendations, it also plans to draft technical solutions, proof-of-concept code, etc., testing the feasibility of a particular approach. If the result of the discussions is that a specific W3C Recommendation should be established on a particular subject, the Interest Group will contribute in formalizing the relevant charter and contribute to the process toward the creation of the group.

The charter is, at this point, a public draft, not yet submitted to the W3C Management or the Advisory Committee for approval. Any comment on the charter (and, actually, on the White Paper, too!) is very welcome: the goal is to submit a final charter for approval reflecting the largest possible constituency. Issues, comments, feedbacks can be submitted through the issues’ list of the charter repository (and, respectively, through the issues’ list of the White Paper repository) or, alternatively, sent to me by email.

Two years have passed; looking forward to another two years (or more)!


Jun. 27th, 2015 08:29 pm
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
Earlier today, during my stand-up comedy act at AlterConf Portland, I failed at living up to the AlterConf code of conduct and to my act's title, "Stand-Up Comedy that Doesn't Hurt". I made a joke that hurt members of the audience. The joke was in a section about attempts to be perceived as a cis ally:

I try to be intersectional in the media I consume, and sometimes that leads to carbon credit-style bargaining, like, "How many memoirs by trans women of color do I have to read before I go see 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'"? [laughter] And then sometimes there's cheating on that diet, like, "Does 'Mrs. Doubtfire' count?"

In this joke, it is not clear enough that the cis ally narrator is completely wrong to categorize "Mrs. Doubtfire" as having anything to do with the goal of reading and supporting trans narratives. I won't make it again and I'm sorry that I made a joke that hurt.

For this act I practiced in front of audiences that included trans people, and I asked them for feedback, but I was not thorough enough about checking beyond that for offensive material. In the future I'll be more thorough.

New Beginnings

Jun. 26th, 2015 05:41 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
“A boy. A boat. A rainy day. An adventure.” That’s what the jacket flap of Daniel Miyares’ Float promises readers. Indeed, it is an adventure, the kind made of the most elemental components—hope and security and resiliency.
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