Wednesday, 23 August 2017

10 more interesting stories starting with a library (where else?)

A library in letters: the Bodleian
via OUP Blog by Amelia Carruthers

“Oxford University, Radcliffe Camera, a Reading room of Bodleian library” by Tejvan Pettinger, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Libraries by their very nature are keepers and extollers of the written word. They contain books, letters, and manuscripts, signifying unending possibilities and limitless stores of knowledge waiting to be explored. But aside from the texts and stories kept within libraries’ walls, they also have a long and fascinating story in their own right. In light of this contrast between the physical store of narratives, and the generally hidden life and narrative(s) of the library itself – what can letters about libraries tell us about the ways these spaces are used, and what makes them so special?
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7 adorably wrong retro visions of the future
via The New Statesman by Amelia Tate
Ah, the future. The golden, glorious future. A time when food will be replaced by pills, walking will be replaced by hovering, and someone will have finally invented a printer that will print your black and white theatre ticket even though (even though!) you have an empty magenta ink cartridge. Who can wait?
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Art history & the brain
via Arts & Letters Daily: Christie Davies in The New Criterion 35:10 June 2017
Chauvethorses.jpg
Paintings of the Chauvet-Pont-dâ Arc Cave
John Onians is one of Europe’s most innovative and wide-ranging art historians. A classicist by training and an expert on the theory and practice of Renaissance architecture, he became the pioneer of the teaching of World Art in British universities.
In European Art: A Neuroarthistory, his latest, expertly illustrated work, Onians has applied his ideas about how the workings of the brain relate to artistic expression to the entire spectrum of European art – from the very earliest cave paintings to Malevitch and Le Corbusier. The religious art of medieval Europe, including Gothic architecture, the works of Italian Renaissance, and the achievements of Velázquez, Canaletto, and Constable are all analysed in detail; here, though, I will specifically consider three of his topics.
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The many voices of Dickens
via OUP Blog by Melisa Klimaszewski

Title page from the first edition of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, 1843.
Illustration by John Leech, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Charles Dickens’s reputation as a novelist and as the creator of Ebenezer Scrooge, one of the most globally recognized Christmas miser figures, has secured him what looks to be a permanent place in the established literary canon. Students, scholars, and fans of Dickens may be surprised to learn that the voice many Victorians knew as “Dickens,” especially at Christmastime, was also the voice of nearly forty other people. Over an eighteen-year span at the height of his career, Dickens was a collaborator whose creative voice was in conversation with a host of others.
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Merchant Navy shipwrecks in the First World War
via The National Archives blog by Dr George Hay and Janet Dempsey
Battles and diplomacy naturally tend to dominate the narrative of the First World War, but little of either would have been sustained for long without the logistical efforts of the Merchant Navy. For the British this contribution was critical – not just delivering the means to fight to the operational theatres, but underpinning the entire war effort with sustenance and raw materials.
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'People wanted to meet me and the donkey': my role in a bestselling children's book
Susanne Schäfer-Limmer recalls finding a donkey on Rhodes, and how her father turned the story into a simple tale
via the Guardian by Candice Pires
Susanne Schäfer-Limmer with the donkey.
Susanne Schäfer-Limmer with Benjamin the donkey.
Photograph: Lennart Osbeck/Scribe Publications

I grew up in a village on the Greek island of Rhodes. My parents moved there from just outside Cologne in 1966, when I was a year old. They had wanted a more simple life, and they had been to Greece a few times and fallen in love with the Mediterranean light and Greek hospitality. Our house had no running water and only a little electricity, but we lived by the sea and it was beautiful.
One day, when I was two, we found a young donkey in the village. It had probably been abandoned by someone who couldn’t afford to keep it. We christened it Benjamin. I don’t know whose idea it was, but my father, Hans Limmer, and a Swedish friend of his in our village, Lennart Osbeck, thought it would be fun to make a children’s book about it – neither of them had written one before.
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The Monk Who Saves Manuscripts From ISIS
Why a Christian wants to rescue Islamic artifacts
via Library Link: Matteo Fagotto in The Atlantic
Father Columba Stewart inspects an ancient manuscript as a Syriac monk looks on at St. Mark’s Syrian Orthodox Monastery in Jerusalem.
Rescuing the world’s most precious antiquities from destruction is a painstaking project – and a Benedictine monk may seem like an unlikely person to lead the charge. But Father Columba Stewart is determined. Soft-spoken, dressed in flowing black robes, this 59-year-old American has spent the past 13 years roaming from the Balkans to the Middle East in an effort to save Christian and Islamic manuscripts threatened by wars, theft, weather – and, lately, the Islamic State.
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These vibrant arrangements of diatoms revive a lost Victorian art
via Boing Boing by Andrea James

Matthew Killip directed this lovely short film about Klaus Kemp, a microscopist whose specialty had its heyday in Victorian times: arranging microscopic creatures into beautiful patterns.
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Collection of Eastern Sephardic Ballads Goes Online
via Research Buzz Firehose: Dr. Rina Benmayor, Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, University of Washington
The Benmayor Collection of Eastern Sephardic Ballads and Other Lore is a collection of over 140 audio recordings gathered by Dr. Rina Benmayor in Seattle and Los Angeles during the 1970s. In conjunction with her visit to the University of Washington in 2014, and working together with the Sephardic Studies Program and Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, Dr. Benmayor organized, catalogued, and digitized her recordings and kindly contributed them to the Sephardic Studies Digital Collection.
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Extraordinary migration of giant Amazon catfish revealed
via the Guardian by Damian Carrington
The dorado catfish is sometimes called the gilded catfish due to its silver and gold skin and can grow up to 2 metres in length.
The dorado catfish, sometimes called the gilded catfish due to its silver and gold skin, can grow up to 2 metres in length. Photograph: Michael Goulding/WCS
A giant silvery-gold catfish undertakes the longest freshwater migration of any fish, according to new research, travelling 11,600km from the Andes to the mouth of the Amazon and back.
The dorado catfish, which can grow up to 2 metres long, is an important source of food for people along the world’s longest river. It was suspected of making a spectacular journey, but a careful new analysis of the distribution of larvae and juvenile and mature adults has confirmed the mammoth migration.
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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Perceptions of discrimination and distributive injustice among people with physical disabilities: In jobs, compensation and career development

an article by Mercedes Villanueva-Flores (Cadiz University, Spain) and Ramon Valle and Mar Bornay-Barrachina (Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain) published in Personnel Review Volume 46 Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract

Purpose
This study examines whether disabled workers perceive negative workplace experiences in terms of discrimination. The purpose of this paper is to study the effects of perceived distributive injustice at work, regarding three dimensions – job assignment, compensation and career development opportunities – on perceived discrimination and explore the mediation role of perceived discrimination in the relationship between perceived distributive injustice and the job dissatisfaction.

Design/methodology/approach
Research hypotheses are tested with a questionnaire administered to 107 disabled employees working in public and private Spanish organisations.

Findings
The results indicate that physically disabled people perceive distributive injustice and discrimination at work regarding job assignment, compensation and career development opportunities in Andalusian organisations, and this perception of discrimination leads to feel dissatisfaction. This study confirms the triple dimensionality of two of the variables studied: perceived distributive injustice at work and perceived discrimination at work.

Originality/value
Few studies have focussed on disability-related issues from a human resource management viewpoint. This study focusses on job assignments, compensation and career development and shows that the perception of discrimination mediates the relation between the perception of distributive injustice at work, and job dissatisfaction. That is, perceived distributive injustice in the organisation leads physically disabled employees to compare their situation with that of their non-disabled peers and thus to perceive discrimination regarding job assignment, compensation and career development opportunities. As a result, they become dissatisfied with their jobs. The results obtained allow us to extend the organisational justice framework, achieving a more thorough understanding of the perception of both injustice and discrimination.


Only 1 in 4 people with a long-term mental illness are in work, says TUC

TUC press release 18 May 2017

Only 1 in 4 (26.2%) people with a mental illness or phobia lasting for 12 months or more are in work, according to a report published by the TUC to coincide with its Disabled Workers’ Conference today.

The report, Mental health and employment, contains new analysis of official employment statistics, which finds that while 4 in 5 (80.4%) non-disabled people are in work, people with mental illness, anxiety or depression have substantially lower employment rates:
  • Only 1 in 4 (26.2%) people with a mental illness lasting (or expected to last) more than a year are in work.
  • Less than half (45.5%) of people with depression or anxiety lasting more than 12 months are in work.
The TUC is concerned that this suggests employers are failing to make adequate changes in the workplace to enable people with mental illnesses, anxiety or depression to get a job, or stay in work. Mental health problems can often be 'invisible' to others, so a lack of mental health awareness amongst managers and employers is also likely to be a factor.

The employment rate for disabled people is increasing, but too slowly for the government to reach its target of halving the disability employment gap by 2020. The TUC estimates it will take until 2025 for those classified in official figures as having long-term depression and anxiety, and until 2029 for people classified as having long-term mental illness.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s simply not good enough that so few people with long-term mental health problems are able to stay in work.
“Not only is the economy missing out on the skills and talents these workers have, but having to leave your job can worsen your mental health.
“The next government and employers must do more to support people with mental health conditions. Simple steps like giving an employee paid time off to go to counselling appointments can make a huge difference.
“All over the country, union reps are helping working people who have mental health conditions. They help with getting bosses to make reasonable adjustments, so that people can stay in work. And they negotiate better support from employers for workers who become ill or disabled. It’s one of the many reasons why everyone should get together with their workmates and join a union.”

The TUC report Mental health and employment is available here


10 interesting things from human sacrifice, via Vermeer to regret

Researchers Discover a New Reason Why Ancient Societies Practiced Human Sacrifice
via Big Think by Philip Perry
Article Image
An Aztec human sacrifice. By: ignote, from a 16th century codex [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Human sacrifice is today a part of urban legends or the serial murders of a few, craven madmen. But dig deeper into history and you’ll find that it was a part of many societies and took place in most regions around the world. These include the South Pacific, ancient Japan, early Southeast Asian societies, ancient Europe, certain Native American cultures, in Mesoamerica, and among the great civilizations of the ancient world. Babylon, Egypt, China, Greece, and even the precursor to the Romans, all took part in ritualized killings. In ancient Egypt and China, for instance, slaves were often buried alive, along with the body of their sovereign, to serve him in the afterlife.
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How Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth in 200 BC
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
High school teacher Joe Howard made another excellent math video. This time, he shows how Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth in 200 BC.
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Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting review – the birth of the cool
via the Guardian by Jonathan Jones
Thinking of a world beyond... Detail from Johannes Vermeer’s Woman with Lute, 1663.
Thinking of a world beyond... Detail from Johannes Vermeer’s Woman with Lute, 1663. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
Some artists are so dazzling they reduce all around them to greyness. Their genius is a flame for us moths who queue for hours to see any exhibition with their name on it. Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting, which opens this week at the Louvre, was already jam-packed when I went to see it and that was two days before the general public was allowed in. No wonder. This is a unique chance to see some of Vermeer’s most stupendous masterpieces in one place – about a third of his entire surviving output, including such glories as The Milkmaid (c.1660), lent by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Woman Holding A Balance (c.1664) from the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, and the marvellous Woman with a Lute (c.1662-63) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
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I wanted to go, I really wanted to but travel costs on top of entrance fee were simply out of scope of my budget.

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Card catalogs had their own elegant standardized handwriting
via Boing Boing by Andrea James

Behold Library Hand, a font designed specifically for librarians without typewriters who created cards for card catalogs. What’s cool is the variation within the guidelines:
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I knew I had seen this elsewhere, I did not expect it to turn up so neatly after six months or so.

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Library Hand, the Fastidiously Neat Penmanship Style Made for Card Catalogs
via Library Link: Ella Morton at Atlas Obscura
Fancy handwriting on a catalog card from the New York Public Library.
In September 1885, a bunch of librarians spent four days holed up in scenic Lake George, just over 200 miles north of New York City. In the presence of such library-world luminaries as Melvil Dewey – the well-organized chap whose Dewey Decimal System keeps shelves orderly to this day – they discussed a range of issues, from the significance of the term “bookworm” to the question of whether libraries ought to have a separate reference-room for ladies.
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A robot that walks like an ostrich designed to “be the standard for legged autonomy”
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Cassie is a two-legged robot that walks like an ostrich. It was developed by Agility Robotics.
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The great mathematician Abraham A. Fraenkel remembers the challenges he and his Jewish colleagues faced under the slow rise of the Nazis
via 3 Quarks Daily: Abraham A. Fraenkel in Tablet
My report about this last phase of my life in Germany should not close without my describing some people who in every respect deserve to be highlighted. Those who first come to mind are eight scientists. Of course, I cannot and do not wish to offer biographies or acknowledgments of their scientific accomplishments that can be easily found elsewhere. Instead, I will mention primarily those aspects that were significant for my own development. Of these eight men, there are four mathematicians: Hilbert, Brouwer, Landau, and von Neumann; two physicists: Einstein and Niels Bohr; and two Protestant theologians and philosophers: Rudolf Otto and Heinrich Scholz.
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Preserving the history of Syriac Christianity in the Middle East
via Research Buzz: Ann Marie Deer Owens in Vanderbilt University Research News
ornate gold cross on black background
St. Thomas Cross is a symbol of that shared heritage among the many Syriac denominations in India. (Submitted image)
An international collaboration that includes a Vanderbilt University Divinity scholar has published three new online reference works to help preserve Syriac, a Middle Eastern language and culture on the edge of extinction.
The Syriac language is a dialect of Aramaic used extensively by Christians in the Middle East.
“For more than a thousand years, Syriac was one of the most widely used languages in the ancient and medieval culture,” said David A. Michelson, assistant professor of the history of Christianity at Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is also an affiliate assistant professor of classical and Mediterranean studies in the College of Arts and Science. “Syriac culture is very important for understanding key moments in the development and intersection of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”
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Family feuds, war and bloodshed – England’s medieval Game of Thrones
Research shows how an 800-year-old conflict known as the Anarchy still marks England’s landscape
via the Guardian by Robin McKie
Gemma Whelan and Alfie Allen as Yara and Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones.
Gemma Whelan and Alfie Allen as Yara and Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones.
Photograph: Helen Sloan/2016 HBO

England’s first civil war raged for almost 20 years – and outdid Game of Thrones for violence and treachery. Indeed, the 12th-century conflict was so intense it changed the landscape of the nation for decades, according to newly published archaeological research.
Fortified villages and churches appeared across the country. Rivals to the king’s mints made coins in different territories. And a network of castles – to hold back rebels – was constructed.
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What do you most regret? People age 5 to 75 answer
via Boing Boing by Andrea James

Glamour Magazine has an interesting series where they ask a question of 70 people each representing an age from 5 to 75. The responses, presented in order by age, have a fascinating cumulative effect.
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Friday, 18 August 2017

10 more interesting stories for you to enjoy

Did these toy building blocks inspire young Einstein’s imagination?
via AbeBooks.com by Richard Davies

Albert Einstein’s toy building blocks
Albert Einstein’s much-loved childhood building blocks have been listed for sale on AbeBooks.com.
Housed in two wooden boxes, the set features approximately 160 pieces with some chipped from use. Did these humble toy building blocks nurture the imagination of the boy who would become the world’s greatest physicist? It’s inspiring to think that these simple blocks were indeed the starting point for Einstein.
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The Eye of the Beholder
How Rorschach’s inkblots turned personality testing into an art.
via Arts & Letters Daily: Merve Emry in New Republic

Just after April Fools’ Day in 1922, Hermann Rorschach, a psychologist who used a collection of symmetrical inkblots to treat patients with manic depression and schizophrenia, died of appendicitis in Herisau, Switzerland, at the age of 37. Had he lived, he would have been 40 when his inkblots made landfall in the United States in 1925; 55 when they emerged as a helpful tool for profiling college applicants; 62 when the Pentagon used them to fashion a line of tropical shorts for World War II veterans; and 99 when Andy Warhol poured paint onto a canvas in 1984, folded it in half, and opened it to reveal his first inkblot-inspired painting. Rorschach would have been 121 – unlikely, but not impossible – when Gnarls Barkley released his 2006 music video for “Crazy,” which featured a series of liquefied inkblots that morphed into threatening or reassuring shapes, depending on one’s perspective. And he most certainly would have been dead by 2016, when the film Arrival imagined a world in which aliens could communicate with humans by means of a visual language written in a mysterious, inky pattern.
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Chart of every Nokia dumbphone from 1982-2006
via Boing Boing by Andrea James
Prepare to take a technological trip down memory lane with this enormous comprehensive chart of every Nokia dumbphone model starting 35 years ago. Extendable antennas, clamshells, you name it.
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Iron Age Potters Carefully Recorded Earth’s Magnetic Field – By Accident
via 3 Quarks Daily: Rae Ellen Bichell at NPR

Ancient jar handles like this one, stamped with a royal seal, provide a detailed timeline of the Earth's magnetic field thousands of years ago.
Image courtesy of Oded Lipschits
About 3,000 years ago, a potter near Jerusalem made a big jar. It was meant to hold olive oil or wine or something else valuable enough to send to the king as a tax payment. The jar’s handles were stamped with a royal seal, and the pot went into the kiln.
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Dance of Steel
via Arts & Letters Daily: Simon Morrison in the Paris Review
In Soviet Russia, getting a ballet off the ground was no mean feat, as Sergei Prokofiev learned the hard way.

LÉONIDE MASSINE WIELDS A LARGE HAMMER OVER THE HEAD OF ALEXANDRA DANILOVA DURING A PRODUCTION OF PROKOFIEV’S LE PAS D’ACIER IN LONDON.
In Russia, during the Soviet era, government control made the challenge of getting a ballet onto the stage no less onerous than being admitted into the ballet schools of Moscow or Leningrad. The daunting auditions of Soviet legend – teachers scrutinizing preadolescents for the slightest physical imperfection – found an ideological parallel in the required inspections by censorship boards at the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky-Kirov theaters. First, the subject of a prospective ballet was adjudicated in terms of its fulfillment of the demands for people-mindedness; the music and the dance would be likewise assessed. There would follow a provisional closed-door run-through to decide if the completed ballet could be presented to the public, after which it would either be scrapped or sent back to the creative workshop for repairs. Dress rehearsals were subsequently assessed by administrators, cognoscenti, politicians, representatives from agricultural and industrial unions, and relatives of the performers. Even then, after all of the technical kinks had been worked out, an ideological defect could lead to the sudden collapse of the entire project.
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Robotic drone bee pollinates flowers
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz

Japanese researchers demonstrated how a tiny remote-controlled drone could help bees pollinate flowers in areas where bees populations have been reduced due to pesticides, climate change, and other factors. Eijiro Myako and his colleagues at the Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology hope that eventually robotic bees could handle their share of the work autonomously.
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Was Chaucer really a “writer”?
via OUP Blog by Christopher Cannon

We know more about Geoffrey Chaucer’s life than we do about most medieval writers. Despite this, it’s a truism of Chaucer biography that the records that survive never once describe him as a poet. Less often noticed, however, are the two radically different views of Chaucer as an author we find in roughly contemporaneous portraiture, although the portraits in which we find them are themselves well known.
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Jerusalem Syndrome at the Met
An exhibition on the diverse multiculturalism of medieval Jerusalem has been ecstatically received. There’s just one problem: the vision of history it promotes is a myth.
via Arts & Letters Daily: Edward Rothstein in Mosaic
From an illustration in a Syriac Christian lectionary. 1220, tempera, ink, and gold on paper. Metropolitan Museum of Art/British Library.
From an illustration in a Syriac Christian lectionary. 1220, tempera, ink, and gold on paper. Metropolitan Museum of Art/British Library.“Severe, Jerusalem-generated mental problems.” Such, as characterized by the British Journal of Psychiatry, is the pathological derangement known as Jerusalem Syndrome. The madness is generally attributed to the city’s intoxicating spiritual powers, recognized over the centuries to inspire wild prophecies, orotund pronouncements, and utopian fantasies sometimes accompanied by predictions of imminent apocalypse.Continue reading
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Bosch and Bruegel review – more gripping than a thriller
via the Guardian by Alexandra Harris
Everyday symbolism … detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559).
Everyday symbolism … detail from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559). Photograph: Alamy
Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder work like antagonistic muscles in the imagination, pulling with and against each other. Bosch is a painter of medieval hellfire whose fantastical creations exceed our nightmares. Bruegel, most memorably and wonderfully, shows us a recognisable world where children lick bowls clean, bagpipers draw breath and harvesters stretch out in the sun. Turning from metaphysics and from myth, he attends to the ploughman who labours his way across a field while Icarus falls into the sea far below. Bosch’s pale figures belong to the international gothic; Bruegel’s weighty peasants dance vigorously into modern times.
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Watch: David Bowie's first TV appearance at age 17 was a delightful prank
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
In November 1964, 17-year-old David Bowie (then Jones) appeared on BBC’s “Tonight” to talk about his new Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men, a PR stunt cooked up by his dad.
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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Self-reflection on privacy research in social networking sites

Ralf De Wolf (Vrije Universiteit, Brussel, Belgium; Ghent University, Belgium), Ellen Vanderhoven and Tammy Schellens (Ghent University, Belgium), Bettina Berendt (KU Leuven, Herverlee, Belgium) and Jo Pierson (Vrije Universiteit, Brussel) published in Behaviour & Information Technology Volume 36 Issue 5 (2017)

Abstract

The increasing popularity of social networking sites has been a source of many privacy concerns. To mitigate these concerns and empower users, different forms of educational and technological solutions have been developed.

Developing and evaluating such solutions, however, cannot be considered a neutral process. Instead, it is socially bound and interwoven with norms and values of the researchers.

In this contribution, we aim to make the research process and development of privacy solutions more transparent by highlighting questions that should be considered.
(1) Which actors are involved in formulating the privacy problem?
(2) Is privacy perceived as a human right or as a property right on one’s data?
(3) Is informing users of privacy dangers always a good thing?
(4) Do we want to influence users’ attitudes and behaviours?
(5) Who is the target audience?

We argue that these questions can help researchers to better comprehend their own perspective on privacy, that of others, and the influence of the solutions they are developing. In the discussion, we propose a procedure called ‘tool clinics’ for further practical implementations.


Information need as trigger and driver of information seeking: a conceptual analysis

an article by Reijo Savolainen (University of Tampere, Finland) published in Aslib Journal of Information Management Volume 69 Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to elaborate the picture of the motivators for information behaviour by examining the nature of information need as a trigger and driver of information seeking.

Design/methodology/approach
A conceptual analysis was made by focussing on the ways in which researchers have conceptualised information need in models for human information behaviour (HIB). The study draws on conceptual analysis of 26 key studies focussing on the above topic.

Findings
Researchers have employed two main approaches to conceptualise information needs in the HIB models. First, information need is approached as a root factor which motivates people to identify and access information sources. Second, information need is approached as a secondary trigger or driver determined by more fundamental factors, for example, the information requirements of task performance. The former approach conceptualises information need as a trigger providing an initial impetus to information seeking, while the latter approach also depicts information need as a driver that keeps the information-seeking process in motion. The latter approach is particularly characteristic of models depicting information seeking as a cyclic process.

Research limitations/implications
As the study focuses on information need, no attention is devoted to related constructs such as anomalous state of knowledge and uncertainty.

Originality/value
The study pioneers by providing an in-depth analysis of the nature of information need as a trigger and driver of information seeking. The findings refine the picture of motivators for information behaviour.


10 more interesting things from my "saved for later use" file

How Europe became so rich
In a time of great powers and empires, just one region of the world experienced extraordinary economic growth. How?
via Arts & Letters Daily: Joel Mokyr in aeon

Dam Square with the New Town Hall under Construction (1656) by Johannes Lingelbach.Photo courtesy The Amsterdam Museum/Wikipedia
How and why did the modern world and its unprecedented prosperity begin? Learned tomes by historians, economists, political scientists and other scholars fill many bookshelves with explanations of how and why the process of modern economic growth or ‘the Great Enrichment’ exploded in western Europe in the 18th century. One of the oldest and most persuasive explanations is the long political fragmentation of Europe. For centuries, no ruler had ever been able to unite Europe the way the Mongols and the Mings had united China.
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How nature created consciousness – and our brains became minds
via The New Statesman by Steven Poole
In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, Daniel C Dennett investigates the evolution of consciousness.
In the preface to his new book, the ­philosopher Daniel Dennett announces proudly that what we are about to read is “the sketch, the backbone, of the best scientific theory to date of how our minds came into existence”. By the end, the reader may consider it more scribble than spine – at least as far as an account of the origins of human consciousness goes. But this is still a superb book about evolution, engineering, information and design. It ranges from neuroscience to nesting birds, from computing theory to jazz, and there is something fascinating on every page.
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Serial Killers Should Fear This Algorithm
via 3 Quarks Daily: Robert Kolker at Bloomberg
On Aug. 18, 2010, a police lieutenant in Gary, Ind., received an e-mail, the subject line of which would be right at home in the first few scenes of a David Fincher movie: “Could there be a serial killer active in the Gary area?”
It isn’t clear what the lieutenant did with that e-mail; it would be understandable if he waved it off as a prank. But the author could not have been more serious. He’d attached source material – spreadsheets created from FBI files showing that over several years the city of Gary had recorded 14 unsolved murders of women between the ages of 20 and 50. The cause of each death was the same: strangulation. Compared with statistics from around the country, he wrote, the number of similar killings in Gary was far greater than the norm. So many people dying the same way in the same city – wouldn’t that suggest that at least a few of them, maybe more, might be connected? And that the killer might still be at large?
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Ten facts about the accordion
via OUP Blog by Berit Henrickson

“Accordion playing boy in Rome” by Per Palmkvist Knudsen. CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
Whether you dub accordion music annoying or enticing, you cannot deny the instrument’s persistence. The earliest version of the accordion emerged in the early 1800’s and one can still find it on many street corners today. Certain universities, museums, and soloists have assisted in the accordion’s longevity. We’ve assembled 10 facts about the instrument that may satisfy our enduring curiosity about the instrument.
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Did Darwin’s theory of evolution encourage abolition of slavery?
via Arts & Letters Daily: Jerry A. Coyne in The Washington Post

An original copy of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” published in 1859. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
On New Year’s Day, 1860, four men sat around a dinner table in Concord, Mass., contemplating a hefty green book that had just arrived in America. Published in England barely a month before, Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” was sent by the author himself to Asa Gray, a Harvard botanist who would become one of Darwin’s staunchest defenders. Gray gave his heavily annotated copy to his wife’s cousin, child-welfare activist Charles Loring Brace, who, lecturing in Concord, brought it to the home of politician Franklin Sanborn. Besides Sanborn and Brace, the distinguished company included the philosopher Bronson Alcott and the author/naturalist Henry David Thoreau.
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Guy visits the least used train stations in the UK
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Geoff Marshall is making entertaining videos of his visits to the least used rail station in each county of the UK. In this episode, Geoff takes a ride in a cute little old old heritage train at Little Kimble - the least used station in Buckinghamshire.
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Crimes without criminals
via OUP Blog by Vincenzo Ruggiero
Stocks
‘business-stock-finance-market’ by 3112014. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay.
There are crimes without victims and crimes without criminals. Financial crime belongs to the second type, as responsibilities for crises, crashes, bubbles, misconduct, or even fraud, are difficult to establish. The historical process that led to the disappearance of offenders from the financial sphere is fascinating.
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Lesney toys: they fit inside a matchbox
via The National Archives blog by David Gill
Selection of Matchbox toysmanufactured by Lesney between the 1960s and the 1970s
The motto goes that that the best things come in small packages. If this is true then it must surely be applicable to Lesney Toys, the original manufacturer of Matchbox model cars. After looking at the history of the Mettoy company (the creators of Corgi Toys), it would be unfair of me not to give the same treatment to Lesney, their distinguished rivals.
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Lost in space? A brief guide to the ‘holographic principle’ of the universe
via the Guardian by Stuart Clark
The Cone nebula, or NGC 2264
Do the maths: another step on the way to unlocking the secrets of the universe.
Photograph: Alamy

The universe is a “vast and complex” hologram, according to scientists from the University of Southampton and colleagues in Canada and Italy. But fear not. It does not mean that we are all figments of an alien overlord’s dabbling with a mega-Imax projection system.
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After a century of failing to crack an ancient script, linguists turn to machines
via 3 Quarks Daily: Mallory Locklear in The Verge













Steatite seal with humped bull, Indus Valley, Mohenjo-Daro, 2500–2000 BC.
 Photo by CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images
In 1872 a British general named Alexander Cunningham, excavating an area in what was then British-controlled northern India, came across something peculiar. Buried in some ruins, he uncovered a small, one inch by one inch square piece of what he described as smooth, black, unpolished stone engraved with strange symbols — lines, interlocking ovals, something resembling a fish — and what looked like a bull etched underneath. The general, not recognizing the symbols and finding the bull to be unlike other Indian animals, assumed the artifact wasn’t Indian at all but some misplaced foreign token. The stone, along with similar ones found over the next few years, ended up in the British Museum. In the 1920s many more of these artifacts, by then known as seals, were found and identified as evidence of a 4,000-year-old culture now known as the Indus Valley Civilization, the oldest known Indian civilization to date.
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Stunning 23-foot wall chart of human history from 1881
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz

Sebastian C. Adams's Synchronological Chart from the late 19th century presents 5,885 years of history (4004 BCE - 1881 AD) on a magnificent 27 inch x 23 foot illustrated and annotated timeline. What a stunner. You can zoom and pan through the whole thing at the David Rumsey Map Collection or order a scaled-down print.
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Monday, 14 August 2017

Private schooling and labour market outcomes

an article by Francis Green and Golo Henseke (University College London, UK) and Anna Vignoles (University of Cambridge, UK) published in British Educational Research Journal Volume 43 Number 1 (February 2017)

Abstract

Though a relative small part of the school sector, private schools have an important role in British society, and there are policy concerns about their negative effect on social mobility. Other studies show that individuals who have attended a private school go on to have higher levels of educational achievement, are more likely to secure a high-status occupation and also have higher wages.

In this article we contribute new evidence on the magnitude of the wage premium, and address a puzzle found in previous studies: how to explain the direct pay premium whereby privately educated male workers have higher wages even than their similarly educated peers. It is commonly conjectured that the broader curriculum that private schools are able to deliver, coupled with the peer pressures of a partially segregated section of society, help to inculcate cultural capital, including some key ‘non-cognitive’ attributes.

We focus here on leadership, organisational participation and an acceptance of hard work. We find that privately educated workers are in jobs that require significantly greater leadership skills, offer greater organisational participation and require greater work intensity. These associations are partially mediated by educational achievement.

Collectively these factors contribute little, however, to explaining the direct pay premium. Rather, a more promising account arises from the finding that inclusion of a variable for industry reduces the private school premium to an insignificant amount, which is consistent with selective sorting of privately educated workers into high-paying industries.

Full text (PDF)


New report shows digital skills are required in all types of jobs

via Val Skelton (InformationToday Europe)

The European Commission has just published the final report of the study “ICT for Work: Digital Skills in the Workplace” on the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on the transformation of jobs and skills. The evidence shows that digital technologies are used in all types of jobs, also in economic sectors not traditionally related to digitisation e.g. farming, health care, vocational training and construction.

The digital economy is transforming the way people work and the skills they need at work. This represents a major challenge for employers, workers and public authorities. The study presents data and policy recommendations that could support the transformation of the labour market into opportunities for all.

Main findings
  • Digital technologies are widely used in workplaces in the European Union. 93% of European workplaces use desktop computers, 94% use broadband technology to access the internet, 75% use portable computers and 63% other portable devices. 22% use intranet platform, 8% automated machine or tools or 5% programmable robots. Larger workplaces report a higher use of digital technologies than smaller ones.
  • Most jobs require basic digital skills. Basic digital skills include being able to communicate via email or social media, to create and edit documents digital documents and to search for information, or to protect personal information online. 98% of workplaces require managers and 90% that professionals (e.g. engineers, doctors and nurses, teachers, accountants, software developers, lawyers and journalists), technicians, clerical workers or skilled agricultural workers should have at least basic digital skills. 80% of workplaces require basic digital skills for sales workers. Workplaces also often require basic digital skills for building workers (50% of workplaces), plant machine operators (34%) and even employees in elementary occupations (27%). However, there are still some workplaces that do not consider digital skills to be important for some occupations e.g. craft workers, waiters and cooks.
  • Technicians, professionals (both 50%) and managers (30%) are required to have specialist digital skills, especially in larger workplaces.
  • The use of ICT has increased significantly in the last five years in more than 90% of workplaces. Micro-sized workplaces are more likely to report limited increase compared to bigger ones.
  • Over the last five years, investments in ICT to improve efficiency or business volume increased These investments are more frequent in sectors with traditionally low levels of digital intensity, e.g. agriculture, manufacturing or construction.
  • 38% of workplaces report that the lack of digital skills has an impact on their performance. Loss of productivity (46%) and decrease in the number of customers (43%) are the main negative impacts.
  • 15% of workplaces report employees lack digital skills. Digital skills gaps are more likely to be found in high- and medium skilled than in low-skilled jobs.
  • 88% of workplaces have not taken any action to tackle the lack of digital skills of their employees. Training is the most common action undertaken. High costs seem to be the main barrier encountered when undertaking actions to deal with digital skills gaps.
Recommendations

Apart from analysing digital skills in the workplace the study lists a number of recommendations that have been formulated in consultation with experts and stakeholders.
  1. Raise awareness on digital technologies and the need for digital skills to support and improve business performance, productivity and internal organisation, and of the need for digital skills in relation to new digital technologies.
  2. Promote access to digital technologies, particularly for micro and small sized companies. Loans, grants and other mechanisms should be used to enhance and support access to digital technologies.
  3. Expand the availability of digital skills through the education and training system. Programmes at all levels and sectors of education should be updated and digital skills should be part of the core competences required at every level.
  4. Promote access to training to employers through their professional or sectoral organisations and associations, or through governmental channels.
  5. Build multi-stakeholder partnerships and agree on a digital skills strategy.
  6. Consider diversity and avoid the ‘one-size fits all’ approach in the strategy
  7. Include digital skills in a wider skills strategy in which other transversal skills relevant to employers such as soft skills and communication skills are included.
  8. Provide access to funding for digital technologies and digital skills development
  9. Reduce the digital divide, focusing in particular on the categories of individuals who do not possess digital skills and are consequently at risk of marginalisation not only in the labour market, but also in day-to-day life, which can contribute to social and economic exclusion.
Background

This final report complements the intermediate report of this study “The impact of ICT on job quality: evidence from 12 job profiles” published last year, and presents mostly findings from the ‘European Digital Skills Survey’, carried out among a representative sample of 7,800 workplaces which are statistically representative of 13,803,113 workplaces in the whole European Union (EU28) in 12 economic sectors with different levels of digital intensity. These workplaces employ a total of 150,563,540 employees in different job roles.

Further information

ICT for work: Digital skills in the workplace

Intermediate report “The impact of ICT on job quality: evidence from 12 job profiles”


10 further items which do not fit into a "work" or "lifestyle" category

Gagauzia: A Country That’s Just 3 Towns in Size?
via Big Think by Frank Jacobs
Article Image
If the saying is true that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy, then landlocked, frigate-less Moldova is only halfway there. The Eastern European republic, celebrated for its obscurity, has struggled with its national identity ever since breaking free of the Soviet bear-hug in the early 1990s.
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How does our brain process fear? Study investigates
via 3 Quarks Daily: Ana Sandoiu in Medical News Today
From an evolutionary perspective, fear and anxiety are quite useful. These deeply ingrained emotions used to protect our ancestors from predators, and in our times the “fight-or-flight” response is still a healthy reaction to dangerous situations.
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Iceland’s unruly terrain and hidden inhabitants
via OUP Blog by Corinne G Dempsey

The “northern capital” of Akureyri in winter. Photo by Svavar Alfreð Jónsson. Used with permission.[in the blog]
When people first learn about my travels to Iceland, the response I most often hear goes something like: “Iceland! That’s on my bucket list.” I understand. It’s hard to resist an arctic wonderland littered with flaming volcanoes and thundering waterfalls, where for months on end the sun barely sets on moss-crazed mountains and whale-infested waters. Maybe you’ve already been there, adding your own drop to a rising sea of tourists, estimated at nearly two million in 2016, a veritable flood for an island whose population hovers around 330,000.
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‘Extraordinary’ levels of pollutants found in 10km deep Mariana trench
via the Guardian by Damian Carrington
A container of Spam, seen resting at 4,947 meters on the slopes of a canyon leading to the Sirena Deep. 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas expedition
Scientists have discovered “extraordinary” levels of toxic pollution in the most remote and inaccessible place on the planet – the 10km deep Mariana trench in the Pacific Ocean.
Small crustaceans that live in the pitch-black waters of the trench, captured by a robotic submarine, were contaminated with 50 times more toxic chemicals than crabs that survive in heavily polluted rivers in China.
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The creation story of the atomic bomb told through a powerful and moving picture book
via Boing Boing by Marykate Smith Despres

When asked if I was interested in reviewing a picture book about the making of the atomic bomb, I told the publicist that a lot was going to depend on how the book ended. I had seen some of the interior art and text at that point, and I was intrigued by the way the tone of both Jeanette Winter’s illustrations and her son Jonah Winter’s text so thoroughly conveyed the almost frenzied, kinetic energy of the inventors and the eerily quiet secrecy of the The Secret Project. After reading the book, I realized that I had greatly underestimated the importance of the telling in its entirety, which is done so masterfully by the Winters.
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The Alley Cats of Istanbul
via 3 Quarks Daily: Darrell Hartman at The Paris Review

STILL FROM KEDI.
If you love something, you let it go. Cat people understand this intuitively. You never quite possess a cat, and the sooner you acknowledge that, the better. Cats will chase the tinfoil ball, if they are in the mood, but they will almost certainly not bring it back. We forgive them for this because there is no other option.
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What happens if all Earth’s coral dies
via Boing Boing by Caroline Siede
The YouTube channel Life Noggin digs into this terrifying question and sings the praises of coral along the way.
Check it out here

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The saltmarsh has its own rich tang of whisky, earth and algae
via the Guardian by Matt Shardlow
Patterns in the mud, Old Hall Marshes, Essex
Patterns in the mud, Old Hall Marshes, Essex. Photograph: Matt Shardlow
A tongue of land borrowed from the mouth of the Blackwater estuary. Inside the mile-long V of grassy banks that exclude the sea the tamed land is riven by the contorted veins of once-tidal channels, now filled with freshwater. Today they are frozen into wide, snaking sheets of white. The khaki reeds that fringe the ice blend into fields of dead grass dotted with the greener humps of ancient yellow meadow ant hills.
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This enormous whirlpool fountain is hypnotic
via Boing Boing by Andrea James
The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore has lots of cool features, but this whirlpool fountain outisde their shopping area could keep some visitors transfixed all day.
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Foundations of three Roman houses found under Chichester park
via the Guardian by Maev Kennedy
Archaeologists digging in Priory Park in Chichester, West Sussex, where the remains of three near-complete Roman buildings were discovered.
Archaeologists digging in Priory Park in Chichester, West Sussex, where the remains of three near-complete Roman buildings were discovered. Photograph: Chichester district council/PA
Large properties just inside city walls, identified using radar, would have been equivalent to homes worth millions today
Foundations of three large Roman houses preserved for almost 2,000 years have been discovered in a park in the centre of Chichester.
James Kenny, an archaeologist at Chichester district council, believes that when fully excavated they will prove to be some of the best Roman houses found in a city centre in Britain.
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Sunday, 13 August 2017

Maslow's Hierarchy through to telephone use via menstruation -- as varied as usual

The Missing Apex of Maslow’s Hierarchy Could Save Us All
via Big Think by Robby Berman
new pyramid
Maslow's revised Hierarchy of Human Needs
When psychologist Abraham Maslow died, he wasn’t quite finished with his famous hierarchy of human needs.
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The eternal Cheshire cat
via OUP Blog by Anatoly Liberman

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by John Tenniel, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Unlike Alice, who was advised to begin at the beginning and stop only when she came to an end, I’d rather begin at the end. The English-speaking world is interested in the Cheshire cat only because Lewis Carroll mentioned it. The origin of the proverbial grin has never been explained, so that, if you hope to receive an enlightening answer from this post, you can very well stop here. Moreover, no one knows the answer even in Cheshire, though some things are beyond dispute: Lewis Carroll did grow up in Cheshire, and it was not he who coined the idiom, though something he heard or remembered about Cheshire cats might have suggested the image of a grinning feline to him. Most of what I’ll say about the subject can be found elsewhere, but a few details will, I hope, pique our readers’ curiosity.
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If the body isn't sacred, nothing is: why menstrual taboos matter
Menstrual seclusion was once about giving women a safe space – hunter gatherer cultures can teach us how women’s blood is potent, not polluting
via the Guardian by Dr Camilla Power
Indian Hindu sadhvis
Indian Hindu sadhvis (holy women) take part in a religious procession on the eve of the annual Ambubachi festival at the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati
Photograph: Biju Boro/AFP/Getty Images

These days we tend to assume that menstrual seclusion, menstrual taboos, menstrual huts and pollution beliefs, which are prevalent in some developing countries, are all examples of sexist practices that undermine women’s rights and freedoms.
But what if seclusion once gave women a safe space, where they could find solidarity with other women? Suppose those taboos were first invented by women for reasons of their own?
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Bouquets of flowers made from kitchen utensils
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

Sculptor Ann Carrington's 2016 Pop Goes the Weasel show at the Royal College of Art included her "Bouquets and Butterflies", an amazing series of floral arrangements made from kitchen utensils. (via Colossal)
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Germ warfare: the battle for the key to modern vaccines
In the late 1960s the scientist behind the world’s most successful antiviral vaccines took on his employer and the US government in a fight for custody of the cells that he called his ‘children’
via the Guardian by Meredith Wadman

On 9 October 1964, a baby girl was born at Philadelphia general hospital. She arrived early, when her mother was about 32 weeks pregnant. The baby weighed 3.2lb and was noted to be blue, floppy and not breathing. The only sign of life was her slow heartbeat. Nonetheless, she clung on, and her 17-year-old mother named her.
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What cats can teach us about how to live
via The New Statesman by John Gray
We should celebrate the solitary hunters among us.
A philosopher once assured me, many years ago, that he had converted his cat to veganism. Believing he was joking, I asked how he had achieved this feat. Had he supplied the cat with mouse-flavoured vegan food? Had he presented his cat with other cats, already practising veganism, as feline role models? Or had he argued with the cat and convinced it that eating meat is wrong? My interlocutor wasn’t amused, and I realised that he really believed the cat had opted for a meat-free diet. So I ended our exchange with a simple question: did the cat go out? It did, he told me. That solved the mystery. Plainly, the cat was supplementing its diet by covert hunting. If it ever brought home any of the carcasses – a practice to which ethically undeveloped cats are sadly prone – the virtuous philosopher had managed not to notice them.
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Charterhouse in London opens to public for first time in 400 years
via the Guardian by Maev Kennedy
Charterhouse in central London.
Charterhouse in central London. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
London’s Charterhouse, a former 14th-century Carthusian monastery and burial ground for victims of the Black Death, will open its doors to the public for the first time in 400 years on Friday.
Visitors will be able to walk across the graves of thousands of Londoners, and enter the secret world of the medieval charity that is still operating in the heart of the capital. A new museum and the chapel, which holds the founder’s grand tomb, will welcome the public in six days a week.
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An Irish cavalryman spent most of World War I living in this cupboard
via Boing Boing by Futility Closet

In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell two stories about people who spent years confined in miserably small spaces. North Carolina slave Harriet Jacobs spent seven years hiding in a narrow space under her grandmother's roof, evading her abusive owner, and Irishman Patrick Fowler spent most of World War I hiding in the cabinet of a sympathetic family in German-occupied France.
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Gene-Modified Ants Shed Light on How Societies Are Organized
via 3 Quarks Daily: Natalie Angier in The New York Times

Dr. Daniel Kronauer, shown in a double exposure, above, studies ants with altered DNA in order to understand complex biological systems.CreditBéatrice de Géa for The New York Times
Among clonal raider ants, there are no permanently designated workers and queens. Instead, all the ants in a colony switch back and forth from one role to the other. About half the time, they behave like workers, gathering food for their young – generally, by raiding the nests of other ants and stealing their larvae. The rest of the time, they go into queen mode and all colony members lay eggs together.
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How to use a telephone
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz

In ye olden days, a telephone user had to ask the operator to call the desired party and make the connection. Then the dial telephone empowered us all to, er, reach out and touch someone. This 1927 instructional film from the telephone company explains the basics: “The ringing signal is an intermittent burring sound telling you the bell of the called telephone is ringing”.
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How does the choice of A-level subjects vary with students' socio-economic status in English state schools?

an article by Catherine Dilnot (Oxford Brookes University, UK) published in British Educational Research Journal Volume 42 Issue 6 (December 2016)

Abstract

The reasons why students from lower socio-economic groups are under-represented at high status universities are not yet entirely understood, but evidence suggests that part of the gap may be a consequence of differential choice of A-levels by social background.

The Russell Group of universities has since 2011 published guidance on A-level subject choices, describing some A-levels as ‘facilitating’ in that choosing these helps keep the largest number of Russell Group degree courses open. The numbers of students gaining AAB in facilitating subjects has subsequently been developed as a performance measure for individual schools and sixth form colleges, and, in aggregate, as a government Social Mobility Indicator.

While it is clear that there is a gap between the proportions of students in maintained and private schools achieving this measure, there is little other work to date on how social background is related to the take-up of facilitating subjects, or to a more fine-grained categorization of all the large number of ‘non-facilitating’ subjects.

I develop a taxonomy of all 96 A-levels certified for English students in 2014/15 beyond the facilitating/non-facilitating dichotomy according to Russell Group members’ expressed preferences, and use it to analyse the A-level subject choices of three A-level cohorts (2010–2012), using National Pupil Database data.

I find that large differentials in A-level subject choice exist by social background, particularly for facilitating subjects. These differentials substantially disappear when GCSE attainment and subject choices are taken into account. Closing this choice gap at A-level is likely therefore to depend on reducing differentials in attainment and subject choice by social background at GCSE.

The introduction of the EBacc may help with the GCSE subject choice element.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

The impact of National Qualifications Frameworks: by which yardstick do we measure dreams?

an article by Nick Pilcher (Edinburgh Napier University, UK), Scott Fernie (Loughborough University, UK) and Karen Smith (University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK) published in Journal of Education and Work Volume 30 Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract

National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) are a global phenomenon. This is evidenced by their scale, coverage and intrinsic link with education policy across Europe and beyond. Research into their impact has encompassed a number of perspectives; theoretical, practical and evaluative.

Yet, despite the existence of critical literature related to the development, design and impact of NQFs, little research has questioned the actual feasibility of researching the ‘impact’ of NQFs per se.

The arguments in this paper position such research as both unfeasible and futile: a dream for which it is impossible to identify a suitable yardstick to measure. We base our argument around three broad themes: linguistics and semantics; homogeneity; and methodological complexity.

Around these themes, we aim to show why such research has proved problematic and, in doing so, contribute to the field as it explores the impact of NQFs in the future.


Is the learning organisation still alive?

an article by Mike Pedler (Henley Business School, University of Reading, UK) and John G. Burgoyne (Management School, Lancaster University, Bailrigg, UK) published in The Learning Organization Volume 24 Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract

Purpose
It has recently been suggested that the learning organisation (LO) is dead (Pedler, 2013). The authors make the case here that it is still alive. This paper provides a brief history of LO and organisational learning, follows this with some survey findings, a discussion and an exploration of some related contemporary issues and concludes with an overview and summary of the conclusions.

Design/methodology/approach
Survey of practitioners.

Findings
From this small survey, whilst some of the 16 respondents are still excited by the idea, a larger group sees the learning organisation as more of a background concept, performed in ways that might not fit with the aspirations of 20 years ago.

Research limitations/implications
The authors started with the question: is the LO idea still alive in 2016? No clear answer emerges. Given the variety of the responses, it is difficult to sum them up in a simple way. The yea-sayer will find plenty of evidence for the LO’s continued existence and relevance, but the nay-sayers will also feel at least partly vindicated. What does emerge clearly arise from the mixed messages, are the opportunities for further research.

Practical implications
This paper calls for further research and suggests useful directions.

Social implications
LO is still seen as socially useful.

Originality/value
The paper is based on small empirical sample of practitioners who display multivocality on this concept.


Friday, 11 August 2017

And yet another ten items I hope are of interest

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From Byron to boy bands: A timeline of heartthrobs
via OUP Blog by Carol Dyhouse
From dreams of Prince Charming or dashing doctors in white coats, to the lure of dark strangers and vampire lovers; from rock stars and rebels to soulmates, dependable family types or simply good companions, female fantasies about men tell us as much about the history of women as they do about masculine icons. The changing position of women has shaped their dreams about men, going from Lord Byron in the early nineteenth century to boy-bands in the early twenty-first. The timeline below highlights ten heartthrobs, fictional and real, that set hearts aflutter over the decades.
Continue reading although you probably won’t find your own special heartthrob in the limited selection.

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‘Quiffs were a must’: teddy boys and girls in London, 1955
Ted Burton and his friends pose for Ken Russell, the photographer and film director
via the Guardian by Candice Pires
Ted Burton and other teddy boys and girls
Ted Burton, seen here over Jeanie Rayner’s right shoulder. Photograph: TopFoto/Ken Russell
This was taken when I was 16, near the Seventh Feathers Club in north Kensington, London, where we all lived. A sort of youth club run by well-to-do ladies, it was our world. I’d make a beeline for it every night of the week; I had left school a year earlier and was working on a site in west London, knocking down a bomb shelter.
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I was just a few years too young to appreciate this look. The difference between 12 and 16 is enormous.

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The ingenious design of the aluminum beverage can
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Every second, 15,000 aluminum beverage cans are manufactured. This is a terrific video about how beverage cans are made, and why they look the way they do.
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“Space Archaeologists” Find Hundreds of Pyramids, Lost Tombs, and Forgotten Cities
via Big Think by by Arpan Bhattacharyya
Article Image
Archaeologist Sarah Parcak is allowing anyone in the world with an internet connection to participate in discovering new archaeological sites, and protect vulnerable archaeological sites from looting. Using the $1 million she got from winning the TED Prize as well as support from the National Geographic Society and DigitalGlobe, she recently launched GlobalXplorer. The organization seeks to engage people from all backgrounds in finding and preserving archaeological sites through the use of satellite images. The methods in question have, according to GlobalXplorer’s website, already produced impressive results.
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Imperial melting pot: how a new book reveals the remarkable history of Istanbul
via New Statesman by Maureen Freely
AEGEE-Istanbul: TURCOPERATION : SUltans on the Way | AEGEE Summer ...
A Tale of Three Cities by Bettany Hughes shows how kings, emperors and sultans have been fighting over the city for millennia.
Eight thousand years ago, the Black Sea was a lake and the land on which Istanbul now sits was not where Europe ended and Asia began. In its place was a ribbon of land, fed by springs and dotted with Neolithic settlements that may have farmed as well as hunted. Around 5500BC, however, a rapid melting of the ice sheets led to a rise in sea level of up to 238 feet. The waters surging in ran right over those coastal settlements, cutting through to the Black Sea to create the deep and fast-moving waterway we now call the Bosphorus.
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Cash for Words: A Brief History of Writing for Money
Money taints everything, why not writing too?
via Arts & Letters Daily: Colin Dickey in New Republic

Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin, by Ilia Efimovich Repin, 1884.The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Humanities Fund Inc., 1972.
Charles Dickens was paid by the word. This was junior high, we were reading A Tale of Two Cities, and this fact, when it was first uttered, raced like a rumor through the classroom, overtaking everything. Suddenly, every other word in Dickens’s novel seemed like unnecessary padding, every sentence overstuffed, wasteful, filled with excessive detail. It didn’t matter that A Tale of Two Cities is among Dickens’s shorter novels; once we’d been introduced to the economy of writing, everything was tainted.
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Did This Medieval African Empire Invent Human Rights?
via Big Think by Philip Perry
Article Image
Catalan Atlas showing the Western Sahara. Mansa Musa is seen seated holding a gold coin.
Attributed to Abraham Cresques, Wikimedia Commons

We usually think of the Magna Carta as the first document to encapsulate any sort of human rights. However, the “Kurukan Fuga Charter” also known as the “Manden Charter” is its contemporary and according to at least one scholar, may even predate it. In 2009, the charter was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. But the charter wasn’t written down. Instead, it was passed down orally from one generation to the next. This went on for centuries, illustrating West Africa’s rich oral tradition.
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Artist creates dimensional scenes on old plates by precisely sandblasting through successive layers
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

Caroline Slotte is a sculptor in Finland who layers old, decorated china plates atop one another, then carefully removes material from successive layers with precision masking and sandblasting and carving, created 3D scenes with gorgeous depth.
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John Evelyn describes a Frost Fair on the Thames
via the Guardian by Tim Radford
A Frost Fair on the Thames at Temple Stairs by Abraham Hondius, c1684.
A Frost Fair on the Thames at Temple Stairs by Abraham Hondius, c1684.
Photograph: Heritage Images/Getty Images
January, 1684. “The weather continuing intolerably severe, streets of booths were set upon the Thames; the air was so very cold and thick, as of many years, there had not ben the like. The small pox was very mortal,” says the Diary of John Evelyn, in the 1879 edition by William Bray.
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Beautifully-shot video of a box being made
via Boing Boing by Rob Beschizza
Watching Laura Kampf build a poplar projector box is an education in 1) excellent craftsmanship and 2) tools I must now get. The way dovetail jointing is illustrated is particularly fascinating: in 5 minutes of well-shot arty youtube cinema I feel I learned more than a dozen talky howto videos where the content is buried somewhere after a minute of intro music, five minutes of "HEY GUYS" rambling, and nine more fooling around in the shop. Don't miss the sketchbook!
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