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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Worth Reading or Visiting

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Barack Obama delivered this year’s State of the Union address this week

Lynn Sillipigni Connaway, Timothy J. Dickey, Marie L. Radford. “If it is too inconvenient I’m not going after it:” Convenience as a critical factor in information-seeking behaviors. Library & Information Science Research, Volume 33, Issue 3, July 2011, Pages 179–190 It’s what I think most teachers and librarians suspect: If information is not convenient to access and consume, it is ignored. From the abstract: “…convenience is a factor for making choices in a variety of situations, including both academic information seeking and everyday-life information seeking, although it plays different roles in different situations… This holds true across all demographic categories,” not just students and “millenials.” [paywall]

“What Drives Success?” Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, from New York Times. In the same way that her publisher generated publicity for her most successful book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy and her husband have published an essay that illustrates the basic points of their upcoming and predictably controversial new book.  “It turns out that for all their diversity, the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control.” I’m excited to read this book, despite the fact that this essay and much of Battle Hymn read as lectures by a woman desperate for approval and validation and who knows she’s right and can’t stand that others don’t understand her.

“Confessions of a Tiger Couple” from the New York Times. Jennifer Szalai spent a few days with Chua and Rubenfeld and wrote a brief article about their dynamic as a couple. The article restates some of their past as it was explained in “Battle Hymn” but is an interesting read. ““The Triple Package” conveys a message familiar from self-help books: Adopt these values and you too can take control of your life. But you have only to step outside of Yale’s campus to see that the world doesn’t operate according to the same principles of effort and reward. For most Americans, especially now, striving and insecurity are likely to be rewarded with more striving and insecurity; you can do everything right and still have little to show for it. Kicking away that ladder will sound like a fantasy when you’re clinging to it for dear life.”

{DISCUSS: I’m interested to hear some feedback and analysis of the first two combined: People are more likely to abandon information searches if the search gets difficult, and Chua two most recent books argue that this would be a lack of discipline and follow-through that is contributing to the downfall of individuals, cultural groups, and countries. What’s the more complex or useful and productive analysis of this?}

“2014 State of the Union Address” by Barack Obama, posted from  “Here are the results of your efforts:  The lowest unemployment rate in over five years.  A rebounding housing market.  A manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  More oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world – the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years.  Our deficits – cut by more than half.  And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.”


Worth Reading or Visiting

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US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts

US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts

“So You Want to Be a Judge” from MN Bench & Bar. Written by a judge, this begins with a list of the great things you can do on the bench, but, in keeping with the caution the article opens with, goes on to articulate some of the reasons not to be a judge. “The image most have of a judge is overwhelmingly positive: stately, respected, wise, thoughtful, and powerful. To be sure, there are many reasons why you should at least consider becoming a judge—but there are also considerations that may give you pause.”

“Hand Quilting for Beginners” by QuiltCrafts (YouTube video). This is a good introduction to quilting by hand. Decent videography and clear instructions plus a few repetitions of the process with clear narrative make this a good tutorial. The first seven minutes or so go over basic quilting techniques and show off (encourage the viewer to buy) some quilting products, such as an automatic needle threader and a lightweight lamp that hangs from the quilter’s neck like hideous but practical jewelry.

“MyColortopia” by Glidden Paint. This site lets you upload pictures of a room you want to paint and try out colors in the space.  It generally works well, but it’s frustrating that you’re only allowed to try five colors at a time or have to start over. It takes a little while to figure out, but is worth the effort. Users can also upload “inspiration” pictures and the site finds the colors in the picture that match their paint selection. This could be a good resources for the public library reference librarian with a patron looking for home decorating information.

“Why Personalized Internet Ads are Kind of Creepy” by Tania Lombrozo from NPR. “The data-mining tools that glean our interests and choose our ads don’t fit into the complex flow of information we’ve spent our lives charting and mastering. We don’t have a map that tells us how a particular bit of information made it from Point A to Point B, nor the social context that gives us insight into why.” Source amnesia (not remembering where we got our information from) is nothing new, but it’s what makes personalized ads so creepy.

“Why Bother Knitting a Scarf?” from Treehugger. Katherine Martinko explains some of the reasons she picked up knitting after a yearlong hiatus, including an interest in the “slow clothes” movement, independence, pride in the product, supporting local business, and other things. This could be interesting reading for a library (such as the one where I did my practicum) that offers knitting classes for the community. Why bother with knitting or the class? Here are some good reasons!

Worth Reading or Visiting

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Sherlock Holmes Statue

Who Owns Sherlock Holmes?

“How the Humanities Compute in the Classroom” from The Chronicle of Higher Education. A few schools are creating “digital humanities” programs that bring together computer skills such as programming, database creation and management, and new and emerging technologies with traditional studies of the classics. This is an opportunity I wish I’d had. Short list of resources for teaching digital humanities follows the article.

“Quantifying the Continued Relevance of America’s Public Libraries” from Library Journal. A Pew Research Center study asked a very small sampling of Americans about how much they and their communities use and value their public libraries. The response was overwhelming: A great deal, on both counts. The author of this article says that this information needs to get into the hands and minds of policy and budget makers. He’s right. My only qualm with this article is that the Pew survey only asked 6,224 people, which doesn’t seem like nearly enough.

“Who Owns Sherlock Holmes?” from The Economist. A federal judge issued a ruling earlier this week reinforcing that Sherlock Holmes … remains part of the public domain.” All but ten of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories were published before 1923, and all but those ten are in public domain. The remaining ten remain the property of the Doyle estate and those wishing to use those stories must pay the estate. Economist article gives a good summary of the facts of the case and current and past/relevant copyright issues.

“What Happens to all the Salt We Dump on the Roads?” from Smithsonian Magazine. I grew up in northern Iowa, went to grad school near Cleveland, and live in the Twin Cities (Minnesota), and every year our roads are salted more than an order of McDonald’s fries, so I’ve wondered about this for a long time. Consequences can include saltiness of drinking water (though because it takes so much, this is quite rare), decreased water flow, desert conditions in runoff areas, and increased roadkill when deer and other animals lick the salt off the sides of the roads.