Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Humorous quotes made by peer reviewers

Extracted from Twisted Bacteria:

"This paper is desperate. Please reject it completely and then block the author’s email ID so they can’t use the online system in future."

"The biggest problem with this manuscript, which has nearly sucked the will to live out of me, is the terrible writing style."

"The writing and data presentation are so bad that I had to leave work and go home early and then spend time to wonder what life is about."

"The finding is not novel and the solution induces despair."

"The writing style is flowery and has an air of Oscar Wilde about it."

More at the link....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Net Neutrality and the Upcoming FCC Meeting

If the Internet is useful to you now and you care about its future, it's time to pay attention (maybe past time) to the upcoming meeting of the FCC. At the meeting on 12/21 the FCC will (probably) vote on rules that will affect the future of the Internet. (There's an unlikely possibility that Chairman Genachowski may still pull the item from the agenda.) While no one aside from FCC members have actually seen the rules, rumors indicate there may be cause for concern.

If you're new to the issue, here's ALA's overview and here is Library Journal on the pending rules.

Here's a link to Commissioner Clyburn's statement about what needs to be in the proposed rules. And, here's a link to Commissioner Baker's statement about why the FCC doesn't belong in this discussion.

It's a complicated issue and Tim Wu's new book, The Master Switch; the Rise and Fall of Information Empires, does an excellent job of explaining what's at risk and why.

One last link, to a site that has suggestions to improve the proposed rule and links to make it easy to contact Chairman Genachowski and the other commissioners.

On tech sites there's a lot about the proposed rules. Take some time, do a search, read about it, make up your mind and let the FCC know how you feel.

Infographic: Should you friend your parents on Facebook?

Click to enlarge

Friday, December 10, 2010

UC Berkeley Course Podcasts

Every semester, UC Berkeley webcasts select courses and events for on-demand viewing via the Internet. webcast.berkeley course lectures are provided as a study resource for students and are not sanctioned as a substitute for going to the course lectures. However, their selection of available courses is extensive and you can enjoy lectures by reknowned Berkeley lecturers on subjects as diverse as "Intellectual History of the United States", "Macromolecular Synthesis and Cellular Function" and "Buddhist Psychology".

There is also a section that rebroadcasts special events held on campus.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Smugopedia: Pretend you know better

Smugopedia is a collection of slightly controversial opinions about a variety of subjects. We offer you the chance to buy a fleeting sense of self-satisfaction at the small cost of alienating your friends and loved ones.

For example:
Sushi: It's only worth bothering with sushi if you're going to go to the Tokyo Fish Market. Nothing else is really fresh enough to capture the perfect simplicity of toro or uni.

Boston University: Boston University has worked hard to collect documentation of 20th century authors; for my personal tastes, I prefer Yale's collection of documentation of 18th century authors, and Harvard's of 19th century ones.

Much more smugness at the above link.....

Found at Coudal Partners

Pocket notebooks

Having posted recently about Moleskine (which I use daily for journaling) and being totally addicted to Field Notes (I go through 3 or 4 a month), I was pleased to find a very interesting and confirming post over at The Art of Manliness on The Manly Tradition of the Pocket Notebook. Admittedly, Moleskines are a bit foppish these days - what with their faux-history and all. I mean, how could Hemingway and Matisse have used a product that wasn't even produced until the late 90s?!

The authors of the article, Brett & Kate McKay, spent many hours combing through the Google book archives looking for references to the use of pocket notebooks by ordinary men during the past century. They have collected and published anecdote after anecdote outlining the pocket notebook’s history and demonstrating that far from being the domain of the modern hipster, the pocket notebook has always been used by men (and, yes, women) from many different walks of life.

They offer examples with specific applications from doctors, architects, farmers, salesmen and more. As I said, it is reaffirming and also fascinating insight. If you aren't using the reinvented pocket notebook, you might want to set your smartphone aside for a bit and grab a pencil. I love the tagline from the Field Notes site, "I'm not writing it down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now."

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Noun Project

The Noun Project collects, organizes and adds to the highly recognizable symbols that form the world's visual language - icons, if you will. You may use the symbols free of charge in any way you wish. Here is a short video about the project:

Found at Coudal Partners

Physics "proves" there really is a Santa Claus

Click to enlarge

Found at the always pithy and usually on-point Surviving the World

Monday, December 06, 2010

Google's eBook store opens

Google's Internet book store which opened Monday draws upon a portion of the 15 million printed books that Google has scanned into its computers during the past six years. Additionally, almost 4,000 publishers, including CBS Corp.'s Simon & Schuster Inc., Random House Inc. and Pearson PLC's Penguin Group are allowing Google to carry many of their recently released books in its new store.

"(These deals) will ensure that most of the current best sellers are among the 3 million e-books initially available in Google's store", said Amanda Edmonds, Google’s director of strategic partnerships.

Millions more out-of-print titles will appear in Google's store if the company can gain federal court approval of a proposed class-action settlement with U.S. publishers and authors. The $125 million settlement has been under review for more than two years, and faces stiff opposition from competitors, consumer watchdogs, academic experts, literary agents and even some foreign governments concerned hat Google might gain too much influence over a publication's pricing and availability in the still-new market for electronic books.

Questia Library for iPhone/iPod Touch

For current subscribers to Questia's online collection, this .99 iPhone/iPod application provides 24/7 access to what Questia bills as "the world's largest online collection of books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences, plus magazine and newspaper articles". Complimenting their online library, Questia "offers a range of search, note-taking, and writing tools designed to help students locate the most relevant information on their topics quickly, quote and cite correctly, and create properly formatted footnotes and bibliographies automatically".

Questia's effectiveness as a research source aside, I can't for the life of me understand why they feel the need to charge another 99 cents for an application that requires a paid subscription to their basic services at $99/year.

What 10 classic novels were almost titled

1. F. Scott Fitzgerald went through quite a few titles for his most well-known book before deciding on The Great Gatsby. If he hadn’t arrived at that title, high school kids would be pondering the themes of Trimalchio in West Egg; Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires; On the Road to West Egg; Under the Red, White, and Blue; Gold-Hatted Gatsby; and The High-Bouncing Lover.

2. George Orwell’s publisher didn’t feel the title to Orwell’s novel The Last Man in Europe was terribly commercial and recommended using the other title he had been kicking around—1984.

3. Before it was Atlas Shrugged, it was The Strike, which is how Ayn Rand referred to her magnum opus for quite some time. In 1956, a year before the book was released, she decided the title gave away too much plot detail. Her husband suggested Atlas Shrugged and it stuck.

4. The title of Bram Stoker’s famous Gothic novel sounded more like a spoof before he landed on Dracula—one of the names Stoker considered was The Dead Un-Dead.

5. Ernest Hemingway’s original title for The Sun Also Rises was used for foreign-language editions—Fiesta. He changed the American English version to The Sun Also Rises at the behest of his publisher.

6. It’s because of Frank Sinatra that we use the phrase “Catch-22” today. Well, sort of. Author Joseph Heller tried out Catch-11, but because the original Ocean’s Eleven movie was newly in theaters, it was scrapped to avoid confusion. He also wanted Catch-18, but, again, a recent publication made him switch titles to avoid confusion: Leon Uris’ Mila 18. The number 22 was finally chosen because it was 11 doubled.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird was simply Atticus before Harper Lee decided the title focused too narrowly on one character.

8. An apt precursor to the Pride and Prejudice title Jane Austen finally decided on: First Impressions.

9. Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? Secretly, apparently. Mistress Mary, taken from the classic nursery rhyme, was the working title for Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.

10. Originally called Ulysses in Dublin, James Joyce’s Dubliners featured characters that would later appear in his epic Ulysses a few years later.

Found at Mental Floss

The United States of Auto-complete

Click to enlarge

Image from Google

Found at Coudal Partners

Shrimp packing pistols! Who knew....

Posted for its value for reference librarians everywhere....

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Spacelog transcribes historical US space mission communications offers transcripts of two of the most dramatic US space missions - Apollo 13 which nearly ended in disaster and Mercury 6 that propelled John Glenn into history as the first American to orbit the Earth. The site promises more to follow and the transcripts are searchable and well-designed.

Learn to pronounce "Moleskine"

It isn't "Mole-skin" and it isn't "Mole-skine", the "correct" pronunciation is actually "Mol-a-skeen'-a". It's Italian....

The company does say there is no "correct" pronunciation and that any old way you pronounce it is just fine with them (which is exactly what I might say were I selling the things!)

This video is offered for example:

The Moleskine image was originally posted to Flickr by Sembazuru at and is used under a Creative Commons license.

55 years ago today - Rosa Parks took a bus ride that changed America

Fifty five years ago today on December 1, 1955 a white man boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The bus driver, James F. Blake, instructed some of the African-American bus riders to move toward the back of the bus to make room for the white passenger. Rosa Parks refused and for this she was arrested.

A year-long bus boycott followed - lead in part by Martin Luther King, Jr. It ended a year later when the federal court system declared the segregation of public buses to be unconstitutional.

What is not commonly known is that Ms. Parks was very well prepared for her confrontation. She had previously taken a class at a local NAACP chapter on the art of passive resistance, and, in her own words, "was tired of giving in." At the time of her action, she was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers' rights and racial equality.

All that aside, her action was taken as a private citizen and showed extraordinary bravery and commitment in a time that did not reward non-conformity.

Even more interesting are the anecdotes Dan Lewis points out in his blog (with thanks to Wikipedia):
Parks' autobiography (cover above) recounts that in 1943, over a decade prior to the event's whose anniversary we mark today, Ms. Parks (then 30 years old) boarded a Montgomery bus through the front door -- at the time something forbidden for an African-American. The bus driver insisted that Parks, who had already paid, exit the bus and re-enter through the rear door. As Parks recounted, when she did not move quickly enough, the driver grabbed her sleeve as if to push her off the bus. She (intentionally) dropped her purse and sat down in a whites-only seat to pick it up. According to Parks, the driver motioned as if he were going to hit her; she stated that she'd get off the bus, staving off attack. She exited but the bus departed before she re-entered. (Some accounts suggest that she did not try and re-enter; others state that the driver sped off before she had an opportunity to do so. In either case, it was not uncommon for buses to disembark before African-Americans were afforded the opportunity to re-enter via the rear door.) Parks had battled with the driver; the driver had won, at the expense of Parks' dignity.

That driver? James F. Blake.

Parks vowed to never again ride a bus he was driving and, apparently, many times waited for a subsequent bus upon noticing that Blake was driving the first to arrive. However, fifty-five years ago today, she boarded the bus without paying attention to who was behind the wheel. So when Blake ordered her to cede her seat to a white traveler, he also resurrected the memory of a transgression a dozen years prior -- and Parks, historically, stood her ground against a nemesis from her past.

Historically speaking, December 1 is a very interesting day. On today, through the past few decades, a lot of interesting things have happened: the first artificial heart transplant, the Vietnam draft lottery begins, the AIDS virus is officially recognized, and a lot, lot more -- including, of course, Rosa Parks' famous refusal to move toward the back of the bus.