Monday, February 28, 2011

Prof. McGonagal - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

Harry Potter reference of the day....

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A Definition of Science

From Freeman Dyson in a book review:

"In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries. Wherever we go exploring in the world around us, we find mysteries."




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InVenture Prize Nominees

The InVenture prize is given to indivituals or teams of Georgia Tech undergraduates who have entered their inventions to the competition.  The finalists for this year have been announced.  I am especially impressed with those that will help solve problems in the developing world, or health.  Congratulations to all the finalists!







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Friday, February 25, 2011

Infographics on Income Inequality

Gail Collins on Congress

I love Gail Collins' writing, and a splendid example of it is from her most recent New York Times column:

"One thing that never changes in Washington is the difference in metabolism between the House and Senate. Have you ever watched pet-rehabilitation shows like “The Dog Whisperer”? The House is the deranged Pomeranian that yelps and throws itself against the window and tears up the upholstery 24/7. The Senate, meanwhile, is like a narcoleptic Great Dane you can hardly rouse for dinner."


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Pagans and the Concept of Sin

Thoughtful article from the editor of the page on Paganism/Wicca.  I also like the page on Alternative Religions.



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Best Time to Buy

This post has a table with the best times of the year to buy major purchases.  Includes some tips on food buying.


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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Printing Human Skin

I've been fascinated by 3D printers, but this usage has me flabbergasted yet hopeful - doctors are hoping to print new skin for burn victims.


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DOMA Done?

Hooray!  The Attorney General has issued a press release saying that in at least some cases the Department of Justice will not defend the Defense of Marriage (DOMA) act, which enshrines discrimination against LGBT people at the federal leval.  Hopefully this will mean the end of this unfair law.


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Capitol Defense: Lobbyist Game

The Sunlight Foundation, which does great work on making government more transparent, has just launched a free online game "that pits you against the special interests and lobbyists spending increasing amounts of money to overcome the puny levels of congressional willpower. And how do you protect your congressional reps? Using snowballs, of course."


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Amazing News : You walk in and your dog is blogging. - Loldogs, Dogs 'n' Puppy Dog Pictures - I Has A Hotdog!

Giving Every Day for a Year

Mashable has this post about a gentleman who is blogging giving something every day for a year to charity.  It includes hints on how to do this yourself and do it effectively.


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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thomas Jefferson's Libraries

I knew that Jefferson's collection was the beginning of the Library of Congress, but didn't know about other collections of his.


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Library of Alexandria Protected by Egyptian Youth

The current incarnation is actually known as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, or BA.  How wonderful of these young people to protect it during the protests.


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Humorous AND Educational: Video on 3D Printing

I've seen this video on a couple of blog posts and it is wicked cool:


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How Big is Google?

Nice infographic with some startling facts about the size of Google.


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Oddest Book Title Prize Shortlist

The prize is the Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title.  The post has the shortlist for 2010.  IMHO, the winner has to be  Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way.


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90 Second Newberry Film Festival

Short films that summarize Newberry-Award winning children's books.  The video featured is for Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, one of my all-time favorites.


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Monday, February 21, 2011

Planned Parenthood Services and Funding

Three percent of their services are for abortion.  Three percent.  Remember why Margaret Sanger started the organization - she was sick of women dying of too many pregnancies, sick of families doomed to poverty by too many mouths to feed.  Tired of husbands and wives begging her for information on how to prevent pregnancies - information that it was against the law to give out.


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Iowa Grandmother Defends Same Sex Marriage

Great video which I saw on Ed Brayton's blog.


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Federal Budget in Understandable Terms

Ed Brayton on Islam and Sharia Law

As is often the case, Brayton states a view of things I agree with and states it with more clarity than I normally use.  In this case he deals with Islam.


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Paul Krugman on Events in Wisconsin

I think he has it exactly right that the issue is more the collective bargaining rights than the pay cuts.


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Quotes about Libraries

Top Ten Most Bizarre Programming Languages

The post talks about Chef but links to the article with a list of all 10.  Anyone have any other bizarre languages to add?


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Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA)

For those of you interested in the academic study of science fiction, SFRA is an organization that shares your interest.  The latest issue of the newsletter has an article about visiting the Georgia Tech science fiction collection, with a shout out to my colleagues in our archives department.



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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Malcolm Gladwell on Income Inequality

Some pretty horrifying statistics on income inequality.  Not mentioned here is that countries with high income inequality tend to be less democratic as well.

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The Meaning of Life

Recently I read a novel with a number of young, very bright characters.  For much of the book, though, they find life meaningless and empty and it drives them to spend most of their lives partying and taking drugs, as a way of relieving the tedium.  They value very little.  And in the few days since finishing the book I've come to realize that I hate this attitude more than any other.  To me life always has meaning and value, no matter how bad it gets.  To me the meaning of life is - meaning - being a part of life, a participant in it, a lover of that which creates.

I offer myself as an example, because to an outside observer my life might seem to have little meaning and little value.  I live fairly isolated without a lot of social contacts.  I have no romantic relationship.  I am, in fact, a steroeotype, a spinster librarian with a cat.  Yet there has never been a time I felt my life had no meaning.  My job may not change the world, but it is one I like and think I've finally gotten to be good at.  It may not change the world, being a librarian, but maybe it helps someone else do better work who does have the capacity to change the world.  In that there is meaning, and there is value.  I work with people I hold dear, and in that there is meaning and value.  I withdrew from most social contacts after enduring levels of emotional pain that almost killed me.  I survived, and in that there is meaning and value.  I survived thanks to dear friends who helped, including one who was simply there, to see to it that I did not end.  In that there is meaning and value.  I stopped believing in having to have someone else to complete me, and that has become a happiness in and of itself.  My social contacts may not be many, but to me they are golden, and are with both people who live near me and I can be a physical part of their life, and people from afar with whom I can interact by the miracles of modern telecommunications, people who are no less dear to me for only being seen once in several years.  In that there is meaning and value.  I am so surrounded by the outputs of human creativity in the forms of books, tv, movies, and music, that I can never get bored and I can experience life through making connections to the imaginations, the minds, hearts, spirit, and experiences of others.  In that there is meaning and value.  I care about the problems of the world, though they overwhelm me and I don't often have much to give to help change them.  I like to think that sharing items that express a passion for changing lives for the better has its own meaning and value.

And I am but one small life.  If there is meaning and value in me, there is meaning and value times the billions of people in this world.  There is meaning and value in the natural world.  My cat lives an even more circumscribed life than I do, yet she has great value for me.  The natural world has beauty that lets spirits soar, and that has value.  In the last few generations, we have come to understand how close to infinite the unverse is.  Some people believe that makes us small and insignificant.  I've never understood that.  The great universe fills me with awe,  and seeing its beauty I feel a part of it, and in that I find meaning and value.

I find meaning and value in that people feel connected to something greater than themselves, and find it matters little to me whether it is a God or Goddess, a deity that started the universe running and then stood back and watched it unfold, or a deity that takes an part in the world.  Equally I value the people who believe in no deity, but find that a reason to be care more for thier fellow humans and the world because there's no one else to fix things.  For those who through spirituality find an experience of love, and in my own life I sometimes have, I am in awe.

I find meaning and value in the heroes, and the great artists and creators.  I could start naming them and fill books with their names.  We'll always have Shakespeare.  Galileo.  Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, and Desmond Tutu.  Margaret Sanger, whom I've thought of often this week and how she was motivated by not being able to stand seeing so many women die in childbirth, or living in dire poverty from too many mouths to feed.  Jon Stewart and other comedians who use humor as a weapon against cluttered thinking.  Van Gogh.  Those who have created fictional worlds that connect us more deeply to what it means to be human.  Dr. Who.  Sherlock Holmes.  In each of these there is meaning and value, and how can anyone be bored in a world where there is so much creative output?  Ballet.  Symphonies.  Rock and roll. 

And maybe as many would see my life as a failure, I feel especially for the failures.  Those who were in too much pain to survive.  I was almost there, But something in my core believes that nothing and no one is ever lost.  That if nothing else, memories survive.  So that if this planet reaches the ultimate failure, and dies, of its own pollution or war, we were here.  We existed.  We had meaning and value.  We'll always have Shakespeare - and Paris.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Matt Taibbi: Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?

If you weren't already angry over the financial meltdown, this will explain why you should be.


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Government by the Rich

I think this is obvious to most of us, but here's some information that shows when the rich and the not rich disagree on an issue, the rich win.


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Humor: For Psychology Nerds - Maslow vs. Lennon

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Favorite Book Title of the Day

Author:STANLEY, AUTUMN, 1933-

Pub Year:2009


I have no idea of who Charlotte Smith was, but this title makes me want to find out!


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Bill Moyers on the Importance of an Independent Media

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Review: Skyhold

Title Skybowl (Dragon Star, Book 3)
Author Melanie Rawn
Rating ****1/2
Tags fantasy, series, dragons, telepathy, sunrunners 

This is the 3rd book of the second series by Melanie Rawn set in the world of Sunrunners, who ride light to communicate and raise fire. The two trilogies take the world through a series of crises, ending with an invasion by a grim foe that kills without mercy.

Four of the six books are over 500 pages, so reading the whole series is a real commitment. In the middle of the fifth book, after trying to keep all the characters and events straight, some might wonder if it is worth it. But in the end, it is well worth it. The characters got inside my head more than almost any others I've read. Highly recommended.

The six books in the series are, in order, Dragon Prince, The Star Scroll, Sunrunner's Fire, Stronghold, The Dragon Token, and Skybowl.

Publication DAW (1994), Paperback, 776 pages
Publication date 1994
ISBN 0886775957 / 9780886775957

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Friday, February 11, 2011

That’ll do, - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

Babe was one of my favorite movies, and the sequel, Babe: Pig in the City, was good too.

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Arthur C. Clarke's Shortest Story

Don't think it is the shortest story anymore, but it is pretty short.  Scroll down to see the transcript, since the facsimile isn't too readable.


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Humor: The Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator

Gladwell wrote Outliers, among others.  This site produces some very funny book titles/covers.


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Mubarak Steps Down!


Don't know what will happen next.  Don't know if the country will move more towards a more religiously-based government.  Don't know what it means for Israel and the Suez Canal.

But it has been a marvelous thing to watch, to see a people fight so hard, and almost entirely peacefully, for their freedom.  The Egyptian people have my admiration and respect, and I hope they wind up with the freedom they have earned.


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What Would Gabby Want?

Great article on the progress being made by Gabrielle Giffords, and how her staff is handling a touch situation no one ever expected to deal with.


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Informed Post about the Muslim Brotherhood

There's been a lot of confusion about the group.  This post seems reasonably informed.


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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

THE ARTIST - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

“Kingfisher, Sound the Alarm!” - Daily Squee - Cute Baby Animals

Civil Liberties Hero Fred Korematsu

Who stood up against the World War II internment of Japanese Americans.  How many of you Star Trek fans know that George Takei was interned as a child along with his family?



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Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens!

Google Books blog has a post full of interesting trivia about the writer about whom we had Great Expectations.


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Frank Rich on the Consequences of American Ignorance of the Middle East

News coverage of the Middle East - well, the rest of the world, really -  as a whole is in a sorry state in the U.S., and often lacks context.


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Muslim Countries and the Evolution of Democracy

Interesting article tracing the evolution of ideas about democracy in Muslim countries.


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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Word of the Day: Bibliotropic

The word comes from the book Among Us, by Jo Walton (thanks, Anna, for the book recommendation).  If heliotropic describes flowers whose faces always turn toward the sun, bibliotropic describes those of us whose faces always turn towards books.  That's me!  :-).

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To Christians Who Want to "Talk" to Wiccans

I have a Google alert set up for "wicca".  It was my first Google alert and I did it mostly to learn what Google alerts were like, and it has provided a variety of intersting posts over the years, from the sublime to the ridiculous.  Recently there have been a spate of articles from Christians on how to "talk" - i.e., proselytize - to Wiccans/Pagans (Wicca is to Pagan as Baptist is to Christian).  Part of it is driven by a recent Catholic publication on how to convert Wiccans.

If your only interest in me is to convert me, I'll pass on the conversation, and feel that there are some things I'd like you to understand.  First, while there are an increasing number of Pagans overall, and more that have grown up in a Pagan family, a large number, perhaps the majority of Pagans, grew up in Christian households.  We became spiritual seekers and many of us, on finding Paganism, felt like we found that which we were born to be.  It fit us, as Christianity did not.  My point, though, is that we probably know as much about Christianity as you do.  Sometimes more, because the last couple of centuries of Biblical scholarship are addressed in very few churches, and I for one have read quite a bit on it.  I get that you are excited and happy about your religion, and I delight that it fills your spiritual needs.  It did not meet mine.  For while I do think there's some validity to the idea that all religious paths lead to the top of the same mountain, I also accept the idea that different religions address different ideas at their core.  I think most Christians would agree that the concept of salvation is at the core of Christianity.  This is not a concept that resonates with me or many other Pagans.  The reason is that I believe (most days, anyway) in reincarnation, and that every soul lives a cycle of lives until it learns all it needs to know to return to that which is the center of the Universe, call it God, Goddess, All That Is, or something else.

So I enjoy conversations about religion, it is an endlessly fascinating topic.  I'm willing to tell you about my beliefs if you want to hear about them, but have no thought to convert you.  What fills my religious needs may not fill yours, and if you found what does for you I'm happy about it.  What I'd like is the same respect from you. 

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Gone with the Wind?

A Malawi law has been construed by some as not allowing breaking wind in public.


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How to Keep Your Search History Private

Hmm…maybe - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

Video: I'm Reading a Book

While I'm somewhat sympathetic, this has to be the most hostile expression of bibliophilia I've ever seen:


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Humor: Out of Context Science

Friday fun post about Out of Context Science which excerpts a brief bit of a scientific paper for humorous results.  I think my favorite is:

"Sharks have been around far longer, but still failed to invent the internet."





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Confused about Great Britain?

Whats the difference between Great Britain, the United Kingdom, England, etc.?  It is all explained well and with humor in this video:


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Brilliant Video by Son of Lesbian Couple

He speaks very well of what his experience of family has been like.


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In mah day, - Loldogs, Dogs 'n' Puppy Dog Pictures - I Has A Hotdog!

There are some days I find myself speaking like an old codger.

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Reasons Not to Panic About the Muslim Brotherhood

This New York Times article gives a more realistic assessment of the Muslim brotherhood and why the U.S. should not panic about it.  (1) They're not that influential in Egypt; and (2) they forswore violence many years ago.  Do I like them?  No.  Do I agree with them on any issue?  Probably not.  But too many in the media and maybe in the government are panicking that more Egyptian democracy means that government would be led by the Muslim Brotherhood.  An excellent book by an expert on the region is Juan Cole's Engaging the Muslim World.  Cole is also a blogger.





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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Any fort - Loldogs, Dogs 'n' Puppy Dog Pictures - I Has A Hotdog!

for those of you with - difficult - weather.

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Teacher's Lists of Best Books for Kids

For the parents among you.  From Neat New Stuff:

"The Best Children's Books - Teachers' Picks for Best Books for Kids

Browse for Caldecott and Newbery Award winners, Teaching Science, Teaching Math, World History, American History, Language Arts, Character Education, and Popular Authors. More categories are promised for the future. I've already added some of these books to my grandchildren's library list."


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Breaking News - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

Happy Imbolc

Ok, this is a day late.

Imbolc is one of the eight major holidays in many flavors of Paganism, a time to prepare for spring and new life:


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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Brilliant Expression of the Progressive View of America

Who Teaches Evolution?

This has become an important subject for me, a baseline on our educational system and whether that system provides citizens who are informed voters.  The scientific evidence for evolution is among the strongest for a scientific theory, but so many people in this country are never taught that it is.  The people who deny evolution, willfully, because it interferes with their religious beliefs, are, IMHO, doing severe damage to the whole concept of education and to the ability of the U.S. to compete internationally in business and technology.


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