Monday, January 15, 2018

The few craziest things we learned about the universe in 2017

The only thing we know about the future is that it is going to be different.” Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices ... read more

Hawaiians sent mistaken ballistic missile alert, Governor admits employee hit 'wrong button'

'Crazy not to take it': Australian company now a $US1b unicorn 

Jews and jokes. The Old Testament isn't funny. Jews, however, produce so much humor. Why? Theories abound, few of them funny  Pound of Ironies

10. Librarians Fight Fake NewsThe problems with fake news caused many of us to revamp our web evaluation handouts into guides forspotting bogus information sources.
9. Elsivier Roundup Elsivier made several headlines this year, in the form of boycottsand resignations. Their buyout of bepress also raised eyebrows. In related news, Beall’s List went dark in January.
8. ALA’s Trump Statements Late last year, many librarians were quick to jump on an initial (and now retracted) press release by the American Library Association about being “ready to work with President-elect Trump.” Recent statements have taken a far moremilitant tone.
7. Milo’s Book Cancelled Right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos found himself out of a book deal after making pro-pedophilia comments. The use of sensitivity readers and related author edits also made the news this year.
6. Whither the Open Web? It’s too early to tell what the end of net neutrality will mean for the Internet, although most experts predict it won’t be a good thing.
Bonus: Favorite Presentation For anyone sick of hearing about how, “during these hardships, it’s time for you to demonstrate your coping skills,” the ACRL talk, Resilience, Grit, and Other Lies: Academic Libraries and the Myth of Resiliency is for you.
5. Remember Electronic Reserve? I first heard about the Georgia State e-reserve lawsuit in grade school. Well, not quite, but after almost a decade, the case is still open.
4. Chinese Censorship Both Springer and Cambridge found themselves in hot water this year for agreeing to self-censor parts of their web publications for Chinese readers.
3. Little Free “Libraries” Criticism An interesting point about those community bookshelves was made recently: they don’t often reside in “book deserts” where the need is greatest.
2. The Opioid Crisis staggering number of people die every day from overdoses in the United States. This year, public libraries found themselves on the front lines in the fight against opioid overdoses.
1. The Paradox of Tolerance In the wake of neo-Nazi protests, librarians found themselves discussing the fine line between protected and hate speech. What was your favorite story of the year?”

 A Reddit user made this map of potential EU leaving names (in the style of Brexit) and some of them are pretty funny:

Oui Out
Czech Out

“The Water Spirit brought us and the Water Spirit will take us home.”

Let them eat Vrbov Zummer bread |

Bread is important. One cannot put it more simply, and yet the reasons could scarcely be more complicated. (GRAVE INVASION | ABCtales)

When you can see a once-in-a-lifetime lunar trifecta

In May of 19 and 58, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals fallen in the pool
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask; I never knew;
But in my simple ignorance suppose
The self-same power that brought me there, brought you.
       —Ralph Waldo Emerson

A wise parliamentary crown officer once said, “The problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time.”
COOL:  The 5 craziest things we learned about the universe in 2017

'Swarm' cyber attacks predicted for 2018 


I’VE BEEN RICH AND I’VE BEEN POOR, AND RICH IS BETTER: Heart benefit of moderate drinking greater in wealthy people. “Being poor also appeared to worsen the risks of heavy drinking.”

ToomeyWall Street Journal, Tax Reform’s Growth Whisperer:
President Trump signed tax reform into law Friday, but in late November it almost had a heart attack in committee. Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Bob Corker of Tennessee were balking, the former over the details of business taxation and the latter over the deficit. The GOP has a bare 12-11 majority on the Senate Budget Committee, and Democrats were united in opposition, so a single Republican dissenter would have stalled the bill. But Messrs. Corker and Johnson voted aye, and it advanced.

Biographers: Henry James feared them as predators. James Joyce ridiculed them as “biografiends.” Saul Bellow compared them to coffin-makers  

NEWS YOU HOPE YOU’LL NEVER HAVE TO USE: North Korea’s anthrax threat

`Gorgeous Clarity and Meaning Emerging'

Nothing seems quite complete, quite itself, until I’ve written about it, nor do I usually begin to understand things until after I’ve put them into words. I’m not alone in this. Everyone knows writers are self-absorbed and that writing is one step away from solipsism, and perhaps even its cure. It seems like such a childish thing to do, which it is. In first grade, Miss McClain told us to go to the blackboard and draw something that would suggest to the class our choice of future occupation. No words, just pictures. I drew a pencil.

The poet Alfred Nicol is new to me. I’ve read only a handful of his poems (herehere), all online. Here he is in aninterview:

“I knew very early on that I wanted to be a writer. I mean very early on, before I could read. A neighbor sat in her front yard reading a picture book of Moby Dick to her son, and I looked over her shoulder . . . I never forgot the experience. I began trying to teach myself to read by saying the letters of a word so quickly that they began to slur . . . The point is that my earliest literary experience was not in the least abstract; it was altogether physical.”

And then a remarkable thing happened: the mind (intellect, memory, imagination, the whole package) followed the body. Nicol’s experience confirms my own: “If I’d had a teacher to show me the right way to go about it, I’d have missed out on that intense physical encounter with the written word. That’s poet’s work.”

The recent vogue for neuroscience leaves me snoring, but the late Oliver Sacks in “The Creative Self” (terrible title), an essay in The River of Consciousness (2017), defines creativity as “that state when ideas seem to organize themselves into a swift, tightly woven flow, with a feeling of gorgeous clarity and meaning emerging.” But it’s important not to stop at that point. It’s easy to mistake gush for glory. The analytical mind must have its turn.

As the end of his interview Nicol is asked, “What advice do you have for young poets?” He answers: “Read deeply.” That goes for all writers. We’re idiots until our forebears show us the way.

In 2013, Google decided to test its hiring hypothesis by crunching every bit and byte of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.
Those traits sound more like what one gains as an English or theater major than as a programmer. Could it be that top Google employees were succeeding despite their technical training, not because of it? . . .
Project Aristotle, a study released by Google this past spring, further supports the importance of soft skills even in high-tech environments. Project Aristotle analyzes data on inventive and productive teams. Google takes pride in its A-teams, assembled with top scientists, each with the most specialized knowledge and able to throw down one cutting-edge idea after another. Its data analysis revealed, however, that the company’s most important and productive new ideas come from B-teams comprised of employees who don’t always have to be the smartest people in the room.