Sunday, 26 March 2017

and so to Sunday

E.T. Could Already Be Among Us and We Wouldn't Know, Says NASA
via Big Think by Robby Berman
Article Image
In Episode 146, late in the run of Star Trek – The Next Generation, its writers finally addressed an obvious issue with science fiction: How come no matter where we go out there, aliens look roughly like us? Obviously, the real answer is that they’re played by human actors, but science fiction has helped instill in us a prevalent bias toward expecting extraterrestrial beings to have arms, legs, heads, not to mention spines, skin, and so on. Little green men are still men, after all.
But even on earth, we don’t represent the norm. There are many more insects than there are humans, and in the oceans? Yipes. Consider giant tube worms.
Continue reading

===================================
These are radio drama staircases
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz

These unusual “radio drama staircases” are inside the BBC's sound studios. When an actor is recorded walking up or down the stairs, the different surfaces (wood, carpet, cement) give the acoustic impression of unique locations for the radio drama. Samuel West shot the image above at BBC's Maida Vale Studios. Apparently, they are actually functioning staircases that lead somewhere in the building.
See one more picture at Boing Boing or click above to go to Samuel West’s Twitter account.

===================================
The Known: Cancer Is Really, Really Old. The Unknown: How Common It Was
via 3 Quarks Daily: George Johnson in The New York Times
Carcinogens abounded 1.7 million years ago in Early Pleistocene times when a nameless protohuman wandered the South African countryside in what came to be known as the Cradle of Humankind. Then, as now, ultraviolet radiation poured from the sun, and radon seeped from granite in the ground. Viruses like ones circulating today scrambled DNA. And there were the body’s own carcinogens, hormones that switch on at certain times of life, accelerating the multiplication of cells and increasing the likelihood of mutations.
Continue reading

===================================
Ancient Supernoval Stardust Is Found in Magnetic Bacterial Crystals
via Big Think by Robby Berman
Article Image
Artist conception of stardust falling on the ocean (photo: DAVID CARILLET)
About 2.6 million years ago, a gigantic star exploded 300 light years away from earth. The explosion was close enough that if we’d been here, we might well have seen its flash in the sky. As our solar system passed through the cloud of stardust left behind some of its radioactive iron-60 particles fell through the atmosphere, settling at the bottom of the ocean where it amazingly still remains thanks to some hungry ancient bacteria. And the timing of the blast is particularly intriguing because it aligns with a major oceanic extinction event on earth. Toxic stardust could explain it.
Continue reading

===================================
Scrumdiddlyumptious and other Roald Dahlesque words now in the Oxford English Dictionary
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
'
In celebration of the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth this month, the Oxford English Dictionary has added words and updated entries related to Dahl’s iconic children’s books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG.
Continue reading

===================================
The poverty paradox
via OUP Blog by Andy Sumner
Amartya Sen’s famous study of famines found that people died not because of a lack of food availability in a country, but because some people lacked entitlements to food. Can the same now be applied to the causes of global poverty?
Continue reading

===================================
People being stabbed in medieval art and lovin' it
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

Medieval manuscripts were the imageboards of their day, full of murderous rabbits and lewd butts, a new (to me) subgenre is "people who don't seem to mind that they've just been stabbed" -- perhaps the origin of the Black Knight?
Continue reading

===================================
400-year-old Greenland shark is oldest vertebrate animal
via the Guardian by Nicola Davis
Shark, which would have reached sexual maturity at around 150 years, sets new record for longevity as biologists finally develop method to determine age.
She was born during the reign of James I, was a youngster when René Descartes set out his rules of thought and the great fire of London raged, saw out her adolescent years as George II ascended the throne, reached adulthood around the time that the American revolution kicked off, and lived through two world wars. Living to an estimated age of nearly 400 years, a female Greenland shark has set a new record for longevity, scientists have revealed.
Continue reading

===================================
Archaeologists Find 3,000-Year-Old Ball of Yarn
via Lion Brand Yarns by Liza Eckert
Photo via Must Farm Archeology
Photo via Must Farm Archaeology
While digging in Must Farm, a Bronze Age settlement known as “Britain’s Pompeii”, British archaeologists unearthed yarn that is 3,000 years old. The ball is extremely small and fragile, and the team took great care to clean it off without damaging it, according to their Facebook page. It appears to be made from plant-based fibers, possibly flax or nettle, and was found with other textile artifacts and tools.
Continue reading

===================================
Daily life in Alexandra Palace internment camp
via The National Archives Blog by Mareike Barnusch
Could you live on £1 a week? Especially when you were told you could only buy certain things? This was just one of the rules which operated at Alexandra Palace from 1915 until 1919 – the time when the palace was turned into a civilian internment camp for German, Austrian and Hungarian enemies (FO 383/33).
Not being a local Londoner, it was only by chance that I stumbled across Alexandra Palace. Being German, I was fascinated by its varied and troubled history, particularly with regards to the First World War, and I wanted to find out more. This is exactly what I have been able to do over the past three months in my internship at The National Archives – part of my Public History MA course at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. The vast number of documents available at the archives reveal the almost forgotten history of Alexandra Palace.
Continue reading



Saturday, 25 March 2017

Saturday selection

What does scaramouche mean?
via Abe Books by Richard Davies

Ever wondered what Freddie Mercury and Queen were singing about in Bohemian Rhapsody when you hear ‘Scaramouche, Scaramouche. Will you do the fandango?’
Continue reading

===================================
Gorgeous triple spiral of 15K dominoes comes tumbling down
via Boing Boing by Andrea James
Watch it here and do not blame me if you watch it again, and again

===================================
The Plague Underground
via 3 Quarks Daily by Genese Sodikoff
Recent outbreaks of the bubonic plague in Madagascar offer a glimpse into the dynamics of past outbreaks, the Plague of Justinian (sixth to eighth centuries), the Black Death (fourteenth to seventeenth centuries), and current wave of “Third Pandemic” plagues that began in the nineteenth century. Over the past few years, genetic studies of the bacillus, Yersinia pestis, have revealed why the pathogen was so devastating, killing tens of millions over centuries. Yet much about it remains mysterious.
Continue reading

===================================
Fastolf not ‘Falstaf’: the soldier behind Shakespeare’s myth
via The National Archives blog by Benjamin Trowbridge
‘What is in that word honour? Air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. Is it insensible then? Yea to the dead…’
This speech from Henry IV Part 1 uttered by Shakespeare’s much loved character Falstaff should hopefully amuse even the most novice of Shakespeare lovers. As a pillar of self-interest with cowardly tendencies and no regard for honour, Falstaff’s antihero qualities have been enjoyed by audiences past and present. It seems that no act of ignominy or debasement fazes him!
Continue reading

===================================
Esperanto, chocolate, and biplanes in Braille: the interests of Arthur Maling
via OUP Blog by Peter Gilliver
The Oxford English Dictionary is the work of people: many thousands of them. In my work on the history of the Dictionary I have found the stories of many of those people endlessly fascinating. Very often an individual will enter the story who cries out to be made the subject of a biography in his or her own right; others, while not quite fascinating enough for that, are still sufficiently interesting that they could be a dangerous distraction to me when I was trying to concentrate on the main task of telling the story of the project itself. If I had included pen-portraits of them all, the book would have become hopelessly unwieldy; I have said as much as I can about many of them, but in many cases there is more to be said. One of those about whom I would have liked to say more is Arthur Thomas Maling, who worked as one of James Murray’s assistants for nearly thirty years, and who went on working on the Dictionary for another dozen years or so after Murray’s death in 1915.
Continue reading

===================================
Frodo’s trip to Mordor as a Google Map
via Boing Boing by Andrea James
Includes options for estimated time by foot, boat, or eagle.
Have a look for yourself

===================================
The wizard of Oxford: what Tolkien could hear in a voice
via New Statesman by Antonia Quirke
Over the radio, J R R Tolkien’s precise and musical voice told us why he'd never have gone to hunt a dragon.
“What would you have done if you had been a little boy, and a wizard had come and asked you to go to the misty mountain and help kill a dragon?” A question put to a 76-year-old J R R Tolkien during an interview in 1968. Tolkien amusedly shot back: “I’d been very well brought up to avoid conversations with dubious old gentlemen, and would have retired into the house and asked my mother.”
This is one of many memorable out-takes from a BBC documentary about the writer, never heard until now.
Continue reading
Unfortunately there is no link to the broadcast to which Ms Quirke refers. And anyway this article is six months old as I am typing this and will be even older by the time it gets into one of my trivia posts.
===================================
‘Giving the Turks a drubbing’: The Battle of Romani
via National Archives by Dr Juliette Desplat and Dr George Hay
100 years [plus several months] ago, on 3-5 August 1916, the Battle of Romani was taking place 23 miles east of the Suez Canal. In what was to be the last attack of the war on Egypt and the Suez Canal, it was a convincing victory and marked the beginning of the British advance into the Sinai desert.
Continue reading
Hazel’s comment:
Reading this I wonder whether it is possible after all this time to discover whether a certain individual was involved. I suppose if I could discover his rank and regiment/unit it would help. Family tree research calls me since I know that Poppa (as we youngsters all called our mother’s father) served in the Middle East. 


===================================
Map of All the Rail Lines Ever Across UK and Ireland
via Research Buzz Firehose
New-to-me: remember that map of streetcar lines I mentioned recently? How about a map of all the rail lines that ever existed in the UK and Ireland? “Base layers can be toggled between Google Maps, satellite, OpenStreetMap and old Ordnance Survey maps.”
Check it out for yourself

===================================
The mystery of the missing craters on Ceres
Astronomers have puzzled over the lack of large craters on our nearest dwarf planet. Has a computer simulation helped reveal their fate?
via The Guardian by Ian Sample
A view of Ceres’ largest well-preserved 175-mile impact crater, Kerwan. The colour-coding indicates elevation (blue = low; red = high).
A view of Ceres’ largest well-preserved 175-mile impact crater, Kerwan.
The colour-coding indicates elevation (blue = low; red = high).
Photograph: Southwest Research Institute/Simone Marchi.

When Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres last year the images it beamed back were puzzling. The nearest dwarf planet to Earth was missing the massive craters that astronomers thought would heavily scar the surface.
As the Dawn probe swung around the body, the largest in the asteroid belt, its cameras recorded pictures of pockmarked terrain. But even though small craters dotted the Cerean surface, none were larger than the 175-mile-wide dent that is the Kerwan impact crater.
Continue reading


Friday, 24 March 2017

Clarity needed in training the ‘temps’: Agency staff’s greater risk of work-related disorders

an article by Brian Beal (affiliation not provided) published in Human Resource Management International Digest Volume 25 Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract

Purpose
Research shows that the risk of work-related disorders is higher among temporary agency workers than among other employees. The purpose of this paper is to describe the working conditions of temporary agency workers and explains which factors contribute towards work-related disorders for this group.

Design/methodology/approach
This paper is based on a survey responded to by 482 agency workers in Sweden. The dependent variable is the prevalence of work-related disorders. Independent variables include personal characteristics, job characteristics, employment characteristics and temporary agency work characteristics.

Findings
The study indicates several risk factors: holding a position as a blue-collar worker; being assigned to more physically demanding work tasks and having fewer opportunities to learn new things than client organization employees; lacking training for work tasks; and lacking clarity regarding which work tasks to do during an assignment.

Originality/value
The theoretical implications of this study are related to the dual employment–management relationship in temporary agency work where the temporary work agency and client organization follow different logics. The logic in the employment relationship is to contract temporary agency workers out to client organizations; thus, there is no time for formal training. The logic in the management relationship lies in making temporary agency workers profitable as soon as possible, encouraging shortcuts in training and instruction; thus, temporary agency workers risk being left with a lack of clarity regarding what to do and how to do it.


A superb selection of trivial items

Want to Be Successful? Don't Act Like a Lady
via Big Think by Lori Chandler
Article Image
The trope of women hating on other women is frequently played out on our movie screens and think pieces du jour. A recent New York Times opinion piece postulated that cattiness comes from hating oneself, which resonates as an accurate analysis: Insecurity breeds contempt. Still, it’s natural that we must compete with one another for evolutionary purposes, to attract the best mate, even as our culture enforced it’s not lady-like. What do you do when you live in a society that tells us it’s not nice to compete, but your instincts are saying that you must?
Continue reading and you will discover that the opinion piece referred to above is over a year old but heck, who said interesting items also had to be contemporary?
===================================
Don't pee on a jellyfish sting, and other venom no-nos
via Boing Boing by Carla Sinclair

Venom expert Dr. Christie Wilcox debunks three popular myths about stings and bites from toxic creatures: jellyfish, snakes and spiders.
Continue reading

===================================
Fastolf not ‘Falstaf’: the soldier behind Shakespeare’s myth
via The National Archives blog by Benjamin Trowbridge
‘What is in that word honour? Air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. Is it insensible then? Yea to the dead…’
This speech from Henry IV Part 1 uttered by Shakespeare’s much loved character Falstaff should hopefully amuse even the most novice of Shakespeare lovers. As a pillar of self-interest with cowardly tendencies and no regard for honour, Falstaff’s antihero qualities have been enjoyed by audiences past and present. It seems that no act of ignominy or debasement fazes him!
Continue reading

===================================
An egalitarian and organic history of the periodic table
via OUP Blog by Eric Scerri
Our story has to begin somewhere and why not with the Manchester schoolteacher John Dalton who revived the atomic theory of the ancient Greek philosophers? In addition to supposing that the ultimate components of all matter were atoms, Dalton set about putting this idea on a quantitative foundation.
He published the first list in which he compared the weights of the atoms of all the elements that were known at the time. Dalton did this by assigning a weight of one unit to the lightest element, namely hydrogen. Next he assumed that a compound like water consisted of one atom of hydrogen and one of oxygen. By appealing to data on how much hydrogen combines chemically with how much oxygen, he arrived at the weight of one atom of oxygen relative to the weight of a hydrogen atom and so on for all the other elements. Of course the formula of water is now known as “H2O” rather than “HO” but this was already a good start.
Continue reading

===================================
Things I miss: Vent Windows
via Boing Boing by Jason Weisberger

By the late 1980s an automotive feature that I love, colloquially known as Vent Windows, or Wing Windows, or Bat Wings had largely been phased out.
Continue reading

===================================
The life and work of H.G. Wells: a timeline
via OUP Blog by Lauri Lu
Depiction_of_a_futuristic_city
The thirteenth of August [2016] marks the 150th birth and the 70th death anniversary of legendary science fiction writer H.G. Wells. A prophet of modern progress, he accurately predicted several historical milestones, from the World War II, nuclear weapons, to Wikipedia. His humble origins gave him insight into class issues, and his studies in biology propelled him to become one of the greatest thinkers and observers of his time. Combined with a flair for story-telling, Herbert George Wells dominated and defines the science fiction genre till this day. His 1895 published novel, The Time Machine, propelled him to fame and inspired studies and speculation from later generations of physicists and theorists.
Continue reading

===================================
New Site Maps 150,000 Images of London, England
via RBFirehose: Feargus O'Sullivan in The Atlantic
With over 150,000 pictures now mapped across the city, a new digital photo archive of the city of London is so rich in content it’s almost too much to cope with.
Launched last week, Collage, The London Picture Map allows you to trace London’s visual history street by street. Supported by the City of London Corporation, it’s the result of two full years of digitizing and mapping images from the London Metropolitan Archive and the Guildhall Art Gallery, which together possess the largest collection of London images in the world.
Continue reading

===================================
Elaborate DIY parking spot
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Kudos to this guy for all the work he had to do to come up with a way to park his car. He is stuck with the particular car model for life, though, because it fits like a glove.
Check it out here

===================================
Water tunnel found beneath Mayan ruin that provided ruler a path to underworld
via The Guardian by Associated Press in Mexico City
The Temple of Inscriptions at the archaeological site of Palenque, in the state of Chiapas, where archaeologists found a network of underground water canals dating from the seventh century.
The Temple of Inscriptions at the archaeological site of Palenque, in the state of Chiapas, where archaeologists found a network of underground water canals dating from the seventh century. Photograph: INAH/AFP/Getty Images
Archaeologists find seventh century system below Palenque, which houses tomb of Pakal whose sarcophagus some erroneously believe depicts him in spaceship.
Continue reading

===================================
Can the World Sustain 9 Billion People by 2050?
via Big Think by Philip Perry
Article Image
The world’s population is topsy-turvy, and its exponential and uneven growth could have disastrous consequences if we aren’t ready for it. Humanity recently hit a benchmark, a population of 7.9 billion in 2013. It is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, and 9.6 billion by 2050. If that weren’t enough, consider 11.2 billion in 2100. Most of the growth is supposed to come from nine specific countries: India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria, the United States, and Indonesia.
Continue reading


Creating the Boiler Room Environment: The Job Demand-Control-Support Model as an Explanation for Workplace Bullying

Alan K. Goodboy, Matthew M. Martin, Jennifer M. Knight and Zachary Long (West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA) published in Communication Research Volume 42 Issue 2 (March 2017)

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explain workplace bullying as a symptom of high-strain employment. The Job Demand-Control-Support (JDCS) model of work design was used to frame this study and examine workplace bullying antecedents and consequences.

Full-time American employees (N = 314) working in various organizations completed a questionnaire about their bullying experiences, working environments, and occupational outcomes. Results revealed that workplace bullying was correlated with expected negative outcomes at work (i.e., job dissatisfaction, job stress, anxiety).

In line with JDCS model predictions, employees who worked at organizations characterized by high psychological demands, low control, and low supervisor social support (i.e., an additive model) reported more workplace bullying (supporting an iso-strain hypothesis).

Results of a moderated moderation analysis revealed a significant three-way interaction between demands, control, and support (supporting a buffering hypothesis); under workplace conditions characterized by low supervisor social support, employee control over how work was completed buffered the negative effect of job demands on workplace bullying.

Supervisors, then, should consider how promoting employee autonomy and communicating social support to employees might nullify workplace conditions that encourage bullying, especially when work is particularly demanding.

Full text (PDF)


Workplace bullying complaints: lessons for “good HR practice”

an article by Bevan Catley, Kate Blackwood, Darryl Forsyth and David Tappin (Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand) and Tim Bentley (New Zealand Work Research Institute, AUT University, New Zealand) published in Personnel Review Volume 46 Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract

Purpose
Current research provides an incomplete picture of the challenges facing human resource personnel (HRP) tasked with managing a workplace bullying complaint. The purpose of this paper is to provide a holistic model of the complaint management process in order to advance the theorising of HRP’s role in this important process, and the challenges they face in undertaking it.

Design/methodology/approach
Cases of workplace bullying heard before the legal system were analysed – a novel data source in research on workplace bullying. Thematic analysis was undertaken on the case determinations to identify the challenges HRP faced that prevented the resolution of the complaint.

Findings
The analysis indicated two key phases in the complaints management process with five associated challenges. The first two challenges were related to HRP’s ability to assess the substance of the complaint. HRP’s ability or inability to “sort out” conflicting accounts and to follow the process saw the complaint follow one of three “resolution pathways”. Three further challenges were associated with HRP communicating the outcome to the complainant. Failure to overcome these challenges left the complainant aggrieved at the unfairness in which their complaint had been handled – triggering legal action.

Originality/value
This paper draws on a novel data source to provide a holistic model of the complaint management process related to workplace bullying which details the various components and challenges related to HRP throughout the process. Alongside advancing theory, this research has practical value for improving HR practice.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

‘I don’t know where to find the careers adviser … he has disappeared’: the impact of changes to careers advice on 14–16 year olds in University Technical Colleges and schools

an article by Daniel K. Acquah, Hayley Limmer and Debra Malpass (Centre for Education Research and Practice, AQA Education, Manchester, UK) published in Research Papers in Education Volume 32 Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract

Recent policies in England have enacted significant changes to careers information advice and guidance (CIAG) and work-related learning (WRL). This paper offers insight into these changes from the perspective of young people studying engineering at University Technical Colleges (UTCs) as well as ‘comprehensive’ schools.

Face-to-face CIAG was conspicuously absent from the young people’s decision to pursue engineering. Whilst they were studying engineering, the young people at the comprehensive schools had quite variable experiences of receiving CIAG and WRL. Although there were instances of young people receiving careers advice from teachers, careers advisors or employers, many young people had not received this input.

As well as accessing advice from a careers teacher or advisor more frequently, the UTC students were also much more inclined to be explicitly positive about this advice. Many young people had positive work experience placements.

They felt that the experience had given them a greater understanding of ‘what it’s like to be in a workplace’. However, not all students had such positive experiences. They told us that it could be ‘extremely hard’ to find a place, especially one related to the course of study.

We relate the findings to the current policy context and implications for the UTC model.


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Tuesday's Trivia. I wonder what Facebook will do with matching image to words!!

The Mystery of Hieronymus Bosch
via 3 Quarks Daily: Ingrid D. Rowland at The New York Review of Books
Hieronymus Bosch: The Wayfarer, circa 1500–1510
Hieronymus Bosch: The Wayfarer, circa 1500–1510
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
There has never been a painter quite like Jheronimus van Aken, the Flemish master who signed his works as Jheronimus Bosch. His imagination ranged from a place beyond the spheres of Heaven to the uttermost depths of Hell, but for many of his earliest admirers the most striking aspect of his art was what they described as its “truth to nature”. The five hundredth anniversary of his death in 1516 has inspired two comprehensive exhibitions, at the Noordbrabants Museum in his hometown of ’s-Hertogenbosch and at Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado, as well as an ambitious project to analyze all of his surviving work, drawn, painted, and printed, according to the latest scientific techniques (the Bosch Research and Conservation Project). Yet despite all we have learned through these undertakings – and it is a great deal – the man his neighbors knew as “Joen the painter” remains as mysterious as ever.
Continue reading

===================================
Twice bottled grief: the defiant life of Tony Garnett
via the New Statesman by Melissa Benn
Garnett’s potent memoir The Day the Music Died shows a life defined by the refusal of even the most ordinary levels of mendacity.
Unlike Ken Loach, his friend and frequent collaborator, Tony Garnett remains a shadowy figure in the story of British radical film-making – yet has been just as vital, responsible for a string of pioneer productions from Cathy Come Home and Kes to Law and Order and This Life. Reflecting on some of the emotional reasons for his relatively low public profile, he comes to the conclusion that it is because “I didn’t want to lie”.
Continue reading

===================================
A Copernican eye-opener
via OUP Blog by Owen Gingerich
Approximately 500 years ago a Polish lawyer, medical doctor, and churchman got a radical idea: that the earth was not fixed solidly in the middle of all space, but was spinning at a thousand miles per hour at its equator, and was speeding around the sun at a dizzying rate. Unbelievable, critics said. If that were true, at the equator people would be spun off into space. And it would be much harder to walk west than east.
Continue reading

===================================
Amazing, horizontal lightning bolt
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

If this was a special effect, we'd call it fakey looking, but apparently it’s real lightning, captured in Tampa and posted to Reddit by UnobtrusiveElephant.
Continue reading

===================================
10 facts about the trombone
via OUP Blog by Aviva Leshaw
trombone
Tuba, trumpet, trombone…which one should you pick up this fall? Read below to learn what makes the trombone the right choice, and to find out a little more about this bass instrument’s long history.
Continue reading

===================================
This Website Shows Which Movies Are Perfect For You
via MakeUseOf by Joel Lee
Here’s the weird thing about our brains: we think that having more choice is good, but that often leads us to analysis paralysis. We spend so much effort trying to pick one of the many choices that we end up giving up and picking none thanks to indecision!
One way to solve this problem is to “sift” through and separate the quality movies from the not-so-quality ones. But that can be a time-consuming process. Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a tool that handled all of that for you?
Well, thanks to a user on Reddit, that tool now exists.
Check it out for yourself

===================================
This titanium-infused quartz crystal is totally mesmerizing
via Boing Boing by Zeni Jardin
You have to see for yourself

===================================
Landmarks, shelter, air filters – trees are our friends
We may no longer rely on their wood for wheels or fish hooks, but trees are essential to our lives
Via The Guardian by Fiona Stafford
An oak tree in Sherwood Forest.
An oak tree in Sherwood Forest. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian
Burnt Oak, Gospel Oak, Poplar, St John’s Wood. These are all stops on the Transport for London map, but their names carry dim recollections of a world older than the Underground. The rail network is haunted by memories of trees – Poplar is called after the trees that once flourished there, along the banks of the Thames and the Black Ditch, one of London’s many lost rivers. In centuries past, St John’s Wood was part of the great forest of Middlesex, variously feared for its robber gangs and famous as a rich hunting ground for kings. Gospel Oak was a huge oak tree, marking the parish boundary of St Pancras and Hampstead, which became an outdoor church for nonconformist preachers and their enormous congregations during the 18th century.
Continue reading

===================================
Ozone Hole Could Be Completely Healed by 2050
via Big Think by Natalie Shoemaker
Article Image
The Earth’s atmosphere is on the mend, according to an article published in Science. It took almost 30 years for the ban on ozone-depleting substances, like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), to work and scientists are saying if this trend continues, the ozone could be completely healed by the middle of the century. It’s a wonder what environmental policies can do for our health.
Continue reading

===================================
How China is rewriting the book on human origins
via 3 Quarks Daily: Jane Qiu in Nature
On the outskirts of Beijing, a small limestone mountain named Dragon Bone Hill rises above the surrounding sprawl. Along the northern side, a path leads up to some fenced-off caves that draw 150,000 visitors each year, from schoolchildren to grey-haired pensioners. It was here, in 1929, that researchers discovered a nearly complete ancient skull that they determined was roughly half a million years old. Dubbed Peking Man, it was among the earliest human remains ever uncovered, and it helped to convince many researchers that humanity first evolved in Asia.
Continue reading

The Quality of Work in a Changing Labour Market

an article by Duncan Gallie (Nuffield College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK) published in Social Policy & Administration Volume 52 Number 2 (March 2017)

Abstract

There have been sharply contrasting scenarios of the long-term pattern of change in the quality of work and employment in the advanced societies.

Three broad perspectives have dominated enquiry in the last three decades:
  • an optimistic tradition emphasizing progressive improvement in skills and the quality of work;
  • a pessimistic tradition underlining emerging threats to employment and job quality; and, lastly,
  • an institutional tradition pointing to long-term structural differences between societies.
We start by briefly outlining some of the key contrasts between these scenarios and then review the current state of empirical research with respect to three key aspects of the quality of work and employment: the structure of skills; the intrinsic quality of work in terms of job control and work intensity; and, lastly, job insecurity.

Full text (PDF)


Steady improvement of European labour market conditions according to Joint Employment Report

European Commission: Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion News

On 3 March, the European Council of employment and social policy ministers adopted the 2017 Joint Employment Report.

The report takes a snapshot of the employment and social situation across the EU. It also highlights the extent of reforms carried out in the Member States over the past year. A draft version was presented by the Commission in November 2016 as part of the Autumn Package launching the European Semester.

The report points out the steady improvement of labour market conditions in Europe. The unemployment rate kept falling and stood at 8.5% (10% in the euro area) in the third quarter of 2016. The employment rate in 2016 was, for the first time, above the levels recorded before the crisis. If the current trend continues, the 75% employment rate target set by the Europe 2020 strategy for 2020 could be within reach.

The report also shows that, despite first signals of convergence among Member States, employment and social outcomes continue to vary significantly across countries.

As also shown by the scoreboard of Key Employment and Social Indicators, which is part of the report,
  • unemployment, youth unemployment and poverty levels remain far too high in many parts of Europe;
  • labour market and social outcomes also vary by gender, age and education for example;
  • despite a recent overall stabilisation, income inequality remains high in many EU countries with potential negative implications for economic output and inclusive and sustainable growth.
Many Member States have implemented important reform agendas in recent years, with positive effects on job creation. This efforts need to continue to promote the creation of quality jobs and increase the inclusiveness of labour markets, including by
  • removing barriers to labour market participation,
  • tackling labour market segmentation and undeclared work,
  • ensuring that social protection systems provide adequate income support,
  • enabling services to all while encouraging transitions into employment and making work pay.
Joint Employment Report 2017 - accompanying the Communication from the Commission on the Annual Growth Survey 2017
PDF but on my laptop it is not readable online and has to be downloaded


Combining Labour Force Survey data to estimate migration flows: the case of migration from Poland to the UK

an article by Arkadiusz Wiśniowski (University of Manchester, UK) published in   Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society) Volume 180 Issue 1 (January 2017)

Summary

In May 2004, Poland and seven other countries from central and eastern Europe joined the European Union. This led to a massive emigration from Poland, especially to the UK. However, relatively little is known about the magnitude of migration flows after the 2004 enlargement of the European Union.

In the paper Labour Force Survey data from the sending and receiving countries are utilized in a Bayesian model to estimate migration flows. The estimates are further combined with the output of the ‘Integrated modelling of European migration’ model.

The combined results with accompanying measures of uncertainty can be used to validate other reported estimates of migration flows from Poland to the UK.

Full text (PDF)


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Steady improvement of European labour market conditions according to Joint Employment Report

On 3 March, the European Council of employment and social policy ministers adopted the 2017 Joint Employment Report.

The report takes a snapshot of the employment and social situation across the EU. It also highlights the extent of reforms carried out in the Member States over the past year. A draft version was presented by the Commission in November 2016 as part of the Autumn Package launching the European Semester.

The report points out the steady improvement of labour market conditions in Europe. The unemployment rate kept falling and stood at 8.5% (10% in the euro area) in the third quarter of 2016. The employment rate in 2016 was, for the first time, above the levels recorded before the crisis. If the current trend continues, the 75% employment rate target set by the Europe 2020 strategy for 2020 could be within reach.

The report also shows that, despite first signals of convergence among Member States, employment and social outcomes continue to vary significantly across countries.

As also shown by the scoreboard of Key Employment and Social Indicators, which is part of the report,
  • unemployment, youth unemployment and poverty levels remain far too high in many parts of Europe;
  • labour market and social outcomes also vary by gender, age and education for example;
  • despite a recent overall stabilisation, income inequality remains high in many EU countries with potential negative implications for economic output and inclusive and sustainable growth.
Many Member States have implemented important reform agendas in recent years, with positive effects on job creation. This efforts need to continue to promote the creation of quality jobs and increase the inclusiveness of labour markets, including by
  • removing barriers to labour market participation,
  • tackling labour market segmentation and undeclared work,
  • ensuring that social protection systems provide adequate income support,
  • enabling services to all while encouraging transitions into employment and making work pay.

Judgement without justice: on the efficacy of the European human rights régime

an article by Petra Guasti (Czech Academyu of Sciences, Institute of Sociology, Czech Republic), David S. Siroky (Arizona State University, Tempe, USA) and Daniel Stockemer (University of Ottawa, Canada) published in Democratization Volume 24 Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is widely regarded as the most important human rights court worldwide. This article investigates the extent to which the court addresses cases from countries with the worst human rights performance. Using a new data set on all ECtHR judgments from 1995–2012, the analysis suggests that the ECtHR does not deliver its judgments against members of the Council of Europe with the worst human rights records, but instead against more democratic and affluent states.

The reason is that litigating in front of a supranational court requires capacities that vulnerable people are unlikely to possess, except when aided by transnational advocacy groups.

However, more judgements are issued against countries that lack independent judiciaries, where cases are less likely to be resolved at the domestic level. While the ECtHR might not address the worst human rights crimes, it plays a subsidiary role in the European human rights protection system by compensating for weak domestic judiciaries.

However, the court's inability to independently pursue litigation, together with the lack of capacity in some countries to bring cases forward, have hampered more effective protection of human rights for the most vulnerable in Europe.


Deprived neighbourhoods in transition: Divergent pathways of change in the Greater Manchester city-region

an article by Stephen Hincks (University of Manchester, UK) published in Urban Studies Volume 54 Issue 4 (March 2017)

Abstract

Many studies of neighbourhood change adopt a ‘bookend’ mode of analysis in which a baseline year is identified for a chosen outcome variable from which the magnitude of change is calculated to a determined endpoint typically over bi-decadal or decadal timeframes.

However, this mode of analysis smoothes away short-run change patterns and neighbourhood dynamics.

The implications of this practice could be far reaching if it is accepted that as neighbourhoods change they are liable to cross a threshold and transition from one state to another in the short- as well as longer-term.

In a case study of deprived neighbourhoods in the Greater Manchester city-region, this paper aims to contribute to neighbourhood change debates in two ways.

The first is by isolating transition pathways for individual neighbourhoods using annual change data.

The second is by testing the thesis that the more deprived a neighbourhood is, the more likely it is to respond with greater volatility to short-run shocks when compared with less-deprived neighbourhoods.

Four indicators collected annually between 2001 and 2010 are used to develop a typology of neighbourhood change and a subsequent typology of neighbourhood transition. The analysis exposed 260 different transition pathways that deprived neighbourhoods followed over the study period.

Multinomial logistic regression was then used to determine the odds of a neighbourhood undergoing transition along a specific pathway owing to its level of deprivation. The model revealed that the most deprived neighbourhoods were likely to follow more volatile transition pathways compared with the less-deprived neighbourhoods especially during periods of economic difficulty.



Statistical learning: a powerful mechanism that operates by mere exposure

an article by Richard N. Aslin (University of Rochester, NY, USA) published in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science Volume 8 Issue 1-2 (January-April 2017)

Abstract

How do infants learn so rapidly and with little apparent effort? In 1996, Saffran, Aslin, and Newport reported that 8-month-old human infants could learn the underlying temporal structure of a stream of speech syllables after only 2 min of passive listening.

This demonstration of what was called statistical learning, involving no instruction, reinforcement, or feedback, led to dozens of confirmations of this powerful mechanism of implicit learning in a variety of modalities, domains, and species. These findings reveal that infants are not nearly as dependent on explicit forms of instruction as we might have assumed from studies of learning in which children or adults are taught facts such as math or problem solving skills.

Instead, at least in some domains, infants soak up the information around them by mere exposure. Learning and development in these domains thus appear to occur automatically and with little active involvement by an instructor (parent or teacher).

The details of this statistical learning mechanism are discussed, including how exposure to specific types of information can, under some circumstances, generalize to never-before-observed information, thereby enabling transfer of learning.

For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

Full text (PDF)


Monday, 20 March 2017

Is the data on your wearable device secure? An Android Wear smartwatch case study

an article by Quang Do, Ben Martini and Kim-Kwang Raymond Choo (University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia) published in Journal of Software: Practice and Experience Volume 47 Issue 3 (March 2017)

Summary

The increasing convergence of wearable technologies and cloud services in applications, such as health care, could result in new attack vectors for the ‘Cloud of Things’, which could in turn be exploited to exfiltrate sensitive user data.

In this paper, we analyze the types of sensitive user data that may be present on a wearable device and develop a method to demonstrate that they can be exfiltrated by an adversary. To undertake this study, we select the Android Wear smartwatch operating system as a case study and, specifically, the Samsung Gear Live smartwatch.

We present a technique that allows an adversary to exfiltrate data from smartwatches. Using this technique, we determine that the smartwatch stores a relatively large amount of sensitive user data, including SMS messages, contact information, and biomedical data, and does not effectively protect this user data from physical exfiltration.

Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


The moral frontiers of English education policy: governmentality and ethics within an alternative provision free school

an article by Francis Farrell, Vicky Duckworth, Monika Reece and Philip Rigby (Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK) published in Educational Review Volume 69 Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract

This article is a critical poststructuralist analysis of Conservative led free school policy in England focusing on claims made by the New Schools Network and in the 2010 White Paper that free school provision promotes social justice.

The article presents an empirical study of an alternative provision free school as a lens through which these claims can be interrogated. Drawing from Foucault’s concept of governmentality the article analyses the narratives of teachers working in the school in order to gain insights into the microphysics of the policy rationalities mobilised within the discursive site of the free school and claims that such provision promotes social justice.

The teachers interviewed demonstrate a strong alignment to free school policy discourse, but also a blurring of pastoral and disciplinary rationalities expressed in terms of the rehabilitation of students on the educational boundaries of the “normal”.

The article concludes that the school is a tactical move within neoliberal education policy in which the state responsibilises a new polity of actors, including teachers, sponsors and communities contracting out its interventions in order to govern the ungovernable.

The article calls for further empirical research of free school provision in order to contest neoliberal discourses which obfuscate complex systemic failure and the social reality of intergenerational unemployment and disadvantage.


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Sunday's offering of trivial items for your delectation

Woolly mammoths’ demise blamed on freshwater shortage
via The Guardian by Nicola Davis
A model of a woolly mammoth
A model of a woolly mammoth. Researchers say they have solved the mystery of what killed a small group of the creatures. Photograph: Andrew Nelmerm/Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley
One of the last known populations of woolly mammoths was wiped out 5,600 years ago by a lack of freshwater, research suggests.
Woolly mammoths became extinct in North America and mainland Asia around 10,000 years ago, but a small number survived on islands lying between Siberia and Alaska which, before sea-level rises, were part of the Bering Land Bridge.
Continue reading

=============================
Richmond: the lost palace
via The National Archive Blog by Marcus Goringe
As a lifelong resident of Richmond I have been surrounded by the remnants of a lost palace, hidden in almost plain sight, but like most others never given it more than a passing thought.
Since starting work at The National Archive ten weeks ago I have found myself drawn to the history of Richmond Palace and its importance over the last 900 years: where did this palace go and what happened there?
Continue reading

=============================
There Is No Scientific Method
via 3 Quarks Daily: James Blachowicz in the New York Times

A reproduction of Kepler’s illustration to explain his discovery of the elliptical orbit of Mars. CreditUniversal History Archive/Getty Images
In 1970, I had the chance to attend a lecture by Stephen Spender. He described in some detail the stages through which he would pass in crafting a poem. He jotted on a blackboard some lines of verse from successive drafts of one of his poems, asking whether these lines (a) expressed what he wanted to express and (b) did so in the desired form. He then amended the lines to bring them closer either to the meaning he wanted to communicate or to the poetic form of that communication.
I was immediately struck by the similarities between his editing process and those associated with scientific investigation and began to wonder whether there was such a thing as a scientific method. Maybe the method on which science relies exists wherever we find systematic investigation. In saying there is no scientific method, what I mean, more precisely, is that there is no distinctly scientific method.
Continue reading

============================
Why we are unaware of how unaware we are
via Boing Boing by David McRaney

Each one of us has a relationship with our own ignorance, a dishonest, complicated relationship, and that dishonesty keeps us sane, happy, and willing to get out of bed in the morning.
Part of that ignorance is a blind spot we each possess that obscures both our competence and incompetence.
Continue reading

=============================
The Battle of the Seine: Henry V's unknown naval triumph
via The National Archives Blog by Benjamin Trowbridge
With the limelight of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt fading, the anniversary of a less well-known naval engagement fought in the mouth of the river Seine is approaching.
On 15 August 1416, a fleet of English ships under the command of the king Henry V’s brother the Duke of Bedford successfully defeated and scattered a Franco-Genoese naval force blockading the recently conquered port of Harfleur.
Continue reading
The anniversaries referred to were last year but I thought this was still of interest.

============================
Maps lie: countries that fit inside other countries
via Boing Boing by Rob Beschizza
We all know the traditional, navigator-friendly Mercator projection distorts the true sizes of Earth’s landmasses. But it’s fascinating to see how countries look next to one another when that distortion is, as far as possible, removed. The tininess of Britain against Japan, for example, or the vastness of Alaska against France, become specific in this video from RealLifeLore. As for Greenland…
Continue reading

============================
Tales of the Psammead
via An Awfully Big Blog Adventure by Lynne Benton
One of my favourite books from childhood was E. Nesbit’s “5 Children and It” – It being the Psammead, or Sand-Fairy, a strange creature with a round furry body and eyes out on stalks who says he can grant one wish a day. In the book, published in 1902, he does indeed give the five children (or more accurately, four children: Cyril, Anthea, Robert and Jane, and their baby brother, the Lamb) a wish every day. Unfortunately the children don’t necessarily think their ideas through, and every wish brings unexpected problems with it. However, the wishes only last until sunset, after which the children can think more carefully about what they will wish for the next day.
Continue reading

============================
A collection of Victorian profanities
via OUP Blog
Euphemisms, per their definition, are used to soften offensive language. Topics such as death, sex, and bodily functions are often discussed delicately, giving way to statements like, “he passed away,” “we’re hooking up,” or “it’s that time of the month”.
Continue reading

=============================
Watch this helpful “Kids Guide to the Internet”
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
…from 1997.
On your mark, get set
Now we’re riding on the Internet
Cyberspace, sets us free
Hello virtual reality
Interactive appetite
Searching for a Web site…
Continue reading

============================
Captain Fryatt: forgotten martyr of the First World War
via The National Archives Blog by Stephen Twigge
On 27 July 1916, Charles Algernon Fryatt, the Captain of the SS Brussels – a passenger ferry that ran between Harwich and neutral Holland – was executed by the Germans. He was only the second British civilian to be executed during the war; the other was nurse Edith Cavell, who was shot on the morning of 12 October 1915.
At the time, the executions of Cavell and Fryatt caused international outcry; their funerals were attended by thousands of enraged and patriotic mourners. While Nurse Cavell is now considered a martyr and a victim of German barbarism, the case of Captain Fryatt has all but disappeared from public consciousness.
Continue reading

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Another ten items of varying degrees of interest

All hail the humble moss, bringer of oxygen and life to Earth
via the Guardian by Tim Radford
Low-growing moss drew carbon from the air, created topsoil for the first vascular plants, and in 40 million years or so increased oxygen in the atmosphere to levels that endure today.
Low-growing moss drew carbon from the air, created topsoil for the first vascular plants, and in 40 million years or so increased oxygen in the atmosphere to levels that endure today.
Photograph: Gareth Phillips/Gareth Phillips for the Guardian
A reconstruction using geological evidence, fossils and ancient spores has revealed the crucial role of moss in creating the conditions for life as we know it.
Continue reading

=============================
Sultana Morayma: the Last Queen of Al Andalus
via 3 Quarks Daily by Shadab Zeest Hashmi
At the end of the story, in its final pages, is a queen. Not the pious despot Isabella of Castille who is about to command the Inquisition, or the embittered, vengeful Sultana Aixa la Horra who is inciting war within the house of Nasrid, but the queen who is obscured from view on this history’s chessboard, whose life and death will come to be a veritable symbol of the paradox that is Al Andalus, the queen who prevails as the enduring shadow of a legend. Her name is Morayma.
Continue reading

=============================
Why cooperate?
via OUP Blog by Judith L. Bronstein
Birds do it. Bees do it. Microbes do it, and people do it. Throughout nature, organisms cooperate. Humans are undeniably attracted by the idea of cooperation. For thousands of years, we have been seeking explanations for its occurrence in other organisms, often imposing our own motivations and ethics in an effort to explain what we see.
Continue reading

=============================
Everything is illuminated: the wonder of medieval manuscripts – in pictures
via The Guardian
The Fitzwilliam Museum has brought together some dazzling, intricate manuscripts, whose colours foreshadow modern art … in the middle ages.
That’s it. Pictures and pictures. And what pictures. I think that this was my favourite.Book of Hours c. 1490 – 1510 Use of Rome The Three Living and the Three Dead Western France Book of Hours, Use of Rome, The Three Living and the Three Dead, Western France, c.1490-1510
See for yourself

=============================
What Fear Does to Your Brain And How to Stop It
via Big Think by Laurie Vazquez
Article Image
From our televisions to our political conversations, we are inundated with messages of fear. We feel more afraid of the world and our own neighbors now than we have in decades. But all that fear isn’t good for us. In fact, according to neuroscience, fear is killing us.
Continue reading

=============================
Ten facts about the bass guitar
via OUP Blog by Scott Gleason
The bass guitar is often thought to be a poor musician’s double bass or a poor musician’s guitar. Nonetheless, luthiers and performers have explored its expressive possibilities within a wide range of musical styles and performance traditions, some of which we chart below.
Continue reading

=============================
Food for thought? Rationing and the Second World War
via The National Archives Blog by Lauren Willmott and Annie Davis
What did you eat for lunch today? Cheese sandwiches? Sushi, salad, chips? Have you ever given any thought as to what your food reveals about society in 2016?
Perhaps that wilted spinach you put in the bin earlier reveals more than just your absent-mindedness; instead it might represent our fast-paced, throw-away culture. Maybe your mid-morning kale smoothie is not only a tasty beverage but also in fact evidence of a modern fascination with #cleaneating and the market power of Instagrammable foodstuffs.
Continue reading

=============================
The visualizations transforming biology
via 3 Quarks Daily: Ewen Callaway in Nature
A smart visualization can transform biologists’ understanding of their data. And now that it’s possible to sequence every RNA molecule in a cell or fill a hard drive in a day with microscopy images, life scientists are increasingly seeking inventive visual ways of making sense of the glut of raw data that they collect. Some of the visualizations that are currently exciting biologists were presented at a conference at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, in March [2016]. Called Visualizing Biological Data (VIZBI), the meeting was co-organized by Seán O'Donoghue, a bioinformatician at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. The gathering attracts an eclectic mix of lab researchers, computer scientists and designers and is now in its seventh year.
Continue reading
Hazel’s comment:
I may not understand the science but I can appreciate the illustrations!

=============================
Supernatural Shakespeare
via OUP Blog by Diane Purkiss
How do you make fairytales into realism? Everyone agrees that doing this work means supplying them with material forms. This is not, however, a novelist’s novelty. Shakespeare’s fairies are small plant flowers and seeds, and his monster knows how to dig pignuts. His witch likes chestnuts, and his ghosts rise out of real graves. The writer’s problem is how to make the fantastic seem real. But there is more to it than that. If Titania’s ‘small elves’ need coats, then they – and we – walk a shivery line between real and imaginary. If they need coats, are they as real as we are? Are we as fantastical as they? Not merely a collage of real thrown at a concept, but writing, itself.
Continue reading

=============================
Why medieval monks filled manuscript margins with murderous rabbits
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

Long before Sergio Aragonés filled the margins of MAD Magazine with tiny, weird cartoons, the margins of medieval manuscripts were a playground for bored monks with crude senses of humor.
While some monks expressed themselves with flat-out crudity, a more common motif was the ubiquitous, triumphant armed rabbit, often shown killing dogs, humans, and other enemies of bunnykind.
Continue reading


Friday, 17 March 2017

Where gender equality remains a myth, minority representation of women in architecture

an article by Graham Cole (Halifax, UK) published in Human Resource Management International Digest Volume 25 Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract

Purpose
This paper aims to review the latest management developments across the globe and pinpoint practical implications from cutting-edge research and case studies.

Design/methodology/approach
This briefing is prepared by an independent writer who adds their own impartial comments and places the articles in context.

Findings
Achieving equal opportunity for all was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the European Union (EU) in the mid-twentieth century.
In its different guises since then, the constitution has issued various directives pertaining to the issue. Member nations are thus expected to comply with the principles outlined in them.
Key to this arrangement is that countries are empowered to choose their own way of meeting equality objectives. Where gender equality in the context of work is concerned, it appears that progress has been minimal at best.
One might argue that paying lip service to EU Directives is as good as it gets in many cases.
The number of professions which are still firmly male-dominated is ample testimony to such notions.

Originality/value
The briefing saves busy executives and researchers hours of reading time by selecting only the very best, most pertinent information and presenting it in a condensed and easy-to-digest format.


A Status-Based Multilevel Model of Ethnic Diversity and Work Unit Performance

an article by Lisa M. Leslie (New York University, USA) published in Journal of Management Volume 43 Issue 2 (February 2017)

Abstract

The present research builds theory regarding the consequences of work unit ethnic diversity by advancing a status-based, multilevel model of when ethnic diversity is likely to constrain work unit performance.

In contrast to past work unit diversity research, which has largely ignored the varying degrees of status ascribed to members of different ethnic groups, I propose that ethnic diversity is most likely to constrain work unit cohesion, and in turn work unit performance, in work units composed of two ethnic subgroups that are separated by large differences in status (i.e., ethnic status subgroups; ESS).

Furthermore, and consistent with evidence that the consequences of work unit diversity are contingent on the broader social contexts in which work units are embedded, I predict that the presence of ethnic status subgroups in the community exacerbates the detrimental consequences of ethnic status subgroups in work units.

Findings from a multisource, field-based data set (N = 743 employees nested within 131 bank branches) support the study hypotheses.

Implications for theory and practice are discussed.


Labor Force Participation of Women in the EU – What Role do Family Policies Play?

an article by Agnieszka Gehringer (University of Göttingen, Germany & Flossbach von Storch Research Institute, Cologne, Germany) and Stephan Klasen (University of Göttingen, Germany) published in LABOUR Volume 31 Issue 1 (March 2017)

Abstract

We empirically study the role of different family policies in affecting women’s labor market behavior in the European Union. Women tend to assume more family duties than men and, consequently, often participate less in the labor market.

Family policies aim to support families in general while a particular focus is on helping women to reconcile family duties with labor market participation. Their impact, however, is not clear, especially when it comes to different forms of labor market activity.

We use a static and dynamic panel econometric framework examining the link between financial support for four types of family policies and labor force participation as well as (part-time and full-time) employment. The results suggest no stable significant impact of expenditures on family policies on overall labor force participation.

However, higher spending on family allowance, cash benefits, and daycare benefits appears to promote part-time employment, whereas only spending on parental leave schemes is a significant positive determinant of women's full-time employment.

Full text (PDF)


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Feeling well while chronically ill or impaired: a multilevel study on the moderating role of employment and volunteering in Europe

an article by Josephine Foubert, Katia Levecque and Ronan Van Rossem (Ghent University, Belgium) published in Disability & Society Volume 32 Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract

People with a chronic condition tend to report poorer subjective well-being than people without. This article examines the dependence of the relationship on doing paid and voluntary work, and on macro-level labour market exclusion of people with and without chronic conditions.

Data from the European Quality of Life Survey (2011–2012) of people aged between 25 and 65 are analysed using multilevel regression techniques.

A chronic condition has a stronger negative effect on subjective well-being for persons who are economically inactive or who never engage in voluntary work. The importance of paid work, however, varies with national levels of labour exclusion.


Time and money explain social class differences in students’ social integration at university

an article by Mark Rubin (University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia) and Chrysalis L. Wright (University of Central Florida, Orlando, USA) published in Studies in Higher Education Volume 42 Issue 2 (February 2017)

Abstract

Working-class students tend to be less socially integrated at university than middle-class students. The present research investigated two potential reasons for this working-class social exclusion effect.

First, working-class students may have fewer finances available to participate in social activities.

Second, working-class students tend to be older than middle-class students and, consequently, they are likely to have more work and/or childcare commitments.

These additional commitments may prevent them from attending campus which, in turn, reduces their opportunity for social integration.

These predictions were confirmed among undergraduate students at an Australian university (N = 433) and a US university (N = 416).

Strategies for increasing working-class students' social integration at university are discussed.


Competitive urbanism and the limits to smart city innovation: The UK Future Cities initiative

an article by Nick Taylor Buck and Aidan While (University of Sheffield, UK) published in Urban Studies Volume 54 Issue 2 (February 2017)

Abstract

The technological vision of smart urbanism has been promoted as a silver bullet for urban problems and a major market opportunity. The search is on for firms and governments to find effective and transferable demonstrations of advanced urban technology.

This paper examines initiatives by the UK national government to facilitate urban technological innovation through a range of strategies, particularly the TSB Future Cities Demonstrator Competition.

This case study is used to explore opportunities and tensions in the practical realisation of the smart city imaginary. Tensions are shown to be partly about the conjectural nature of the smart city debate.

Attention is also drawn to weakened capacity of urban governments to control their infrastructural destiny and also constraints on the ability of the public and private sectors to innovate.

The paper contributes to smart city debates by providing further evidence of the difficulties in substantiating the smart city imaginary.

Full text (PDF)


It doesn't alliterate quite like "Tuesday Trivia" but here is Thursday's offering

Elephants are the end of a 60m-year lineage – last of the megaherbivores
Four-tuskers, hoe-tuskers, shovel-tuskers are all wiped out – now only a fragment of this keystone species remains
via The Guardian by Patrick Barkham
Herds of Stegotetrabelodon syrticus wandered the Arabian peninsula seven million years ago. They were roughly the same size as modern elephants but had four huge tusks.
Stegotetrabelodon syrticus wandered the Arabian peninsula 7 million years ago.
Illustration: Jennie Webber

If, just 800 generations ago, we took a summer holiday to Crete, Cyprus or Malta, we would have found familiar-looking islands, filled with the flowers and birds we can enjoy today. But bursting through the scrub would’ve been one surprise: a pygmy elephant, one metre high, one of many different elephant species that once roamed every continent apart from Australia and Antarctica.
Continue reading and allow yourself time, this is not a two-minute read.

=============================
12 little-known facts about cats
via OUP Blog by Lauri Lu
Image result for images: kittens
Cats are among some of the most popular pets in the world, and they’ve been so for thousands of years. While some superstitious people may consider them to be bad luck due to their ancient association with witchcraft and magic, others simply cannot get enough, going so far as to be dubbed a ‘cat lady.’ In fact, there are more than two million cat videos on YouTube – way more than any other nonhuman animal – and watching cat videos has been said to be an extremely calming exercise. Who knows, maybe they do have powers we don’t know about.
Continue reading

=============================
Barry Lyndon: why it’s time to reassess Kubrick’s ‘coffee-table’ movie
via The Guardian by John Patterson

Barry Lyndon is 41 years old and its sparkling new digital facelift gives us the chance to reassess Stanley Kubrick’s lone flop and, to my mind, greatest masterpiece. “Glacial” they called it in 1975; “a coffee-table movie” (Pauline Kael), with a terrible bit of casting at its heart, and a misanthropist at the helm. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Continue reading

=============================
Scientists Identify the Common Ancestor to All Life on Earth
via Big Think by Paul Ratner
Article Image
Scientists may have identified the ancestor that started all life and where it lived. We are talking about LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, also known as the “microbial Eve”.
This is the organism from which all modern cells descended which likely lived underwater in hydrothermal vents, an area where seawater and magma come together on the ocean floor.
Continue reading

=============================
Jewish identity – the Israeli paradoxes
via OUP Blog by Daniel Friedmann
Is Judaism a religion and a culture or is it also a nationality? To this question the Zionist movement, which led to the establishment of the State of Israel, gave a clear positive answer. This approach has been adopted by Israel.
Continue reading

=============================
Westminster Abbey on Google Street View
via RBFirehose
Now available on Google Street View: Westminster Abbey. “Starting at the front doors you can walk the length of the Abbey’s vast nave while visiting sights like the Coronation Chair, the High Altar and the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.”
Check it out here

============================
The Space Station Is Becoming A Spy Satellite For Wildlife
via 3 Quarks Daily: Ed Yong in The Atlantic


In 1250, the prior of a Cistercian Abbey reputedly tied a note to a leg of a barn swallow, which read: “Oh swallow, where do you live in winter?” The next spring, he got a response: “In Asia, in the home of Petrus.”
This perhaps apocryphal story marks one of the first known instances of someone tagging an animal to track its movements. Thanks to many such endeavors, we now know that every year, barn swallows migrate between their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere to wintering grounds throughout the tropics and the south. In 1912, one intrepid individual that was ringed in England turned up 7,500 miles away in South Africa.
Continue reading

=============================
The Weird and the Wonderful
via An Awfully Big Blog Adventure by Savita Kalhan

There are so many weird and wonderful libraries across the world! From public libraries to school libraries, and from adult libraries to kid's libraries, there is a huge variety in the way that books are delivered. There are also many beautiful libraries, but this blog isn't about breath-taking libraries like Trinity College Library or the Library of El Escorial in Spain, and so many others. It's about the weird and the wonderful, and the extraordinary lengths some people go to in order to get books into the hands of readers.
Continue reading

=============================
10 facts about the maracas
via OUP Blog by Louise Gallagher
The simple design and intuitive process of the maracas have made it a familiar favorite around the world, but may often lead to an underestimation of its value in creating variety of rhythmic expression. Yet this rattle-like instrument has a long history of engaging audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
Continue reading

=============================
Why old statues have tiny penises
via Boing Boing by Rob Beschizza

There’s an obvious answer to the smallness of statues’ penises: the manners and religious prudishness of classical elites. But the issue is more about differing standards of beauty and modern men’s penis anxiety, writes Ellen Oredsson. Which is to say that smaller penises were once regarded as ideal, and many real penises aren’t any bigger than the ones on the statues.
Continue reading

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Identifying and predicting the desire to help in social question and answering

an article by Zhe Liu (IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, CA, USA) and Bernard J. Jansen (Qatar Computing Research Institute, Doha, Qatar) published in Information Processing & Management Volume 53 Issue 2 (March 2017)

Highlights
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of question routing systems in the social Q&A process.
  • Find that individuals are more willing to share their knowledge under question routing context whereas less connected.
  • Build an effective model to automatically identify active knowledge sharers from non-shares using non-Q&A features from four dimensions: profile, posting behavior, language style, and social activities.
Abstract

The increasing volume of questions posted on social question and answering sites has triggered the development of question routing services. Most of these routing algorithms are able to recognize effectively individuals with the required knowledge to answer a specific question.

However, just because people have the capability to answer a question, does not mean that they have the desire to help.

In this research, we evaluate the practical performance of the question routing services in social context by analyzing the knowledge sharing behavior of users in social Q&A process in terms of their participation, interests, and connectedness. We collect questions and answers over a ten-month period from Wenwo, a major Chinese question routing service.

Using 340,658 questions and 1,754,280 replies, findings reveal separate roles for knowledge sharers and consumers. Based on this finding, we identify knowledge sharers from non-sharers a priori in order to increase the response probabilities.

We evaluate our model based on an analysis of 3006 Wenwo knowledge sharers and non-sharers.

Our experimental results demonstrate knowledge sharer prediction based solely on non-Q&A features achieves a 70% success rate in accurately identifying willing respondents.