Archive for the ‘Humor, Attempts At’ Category

Dead Text

Friday, December 14th, 2012

During a presentation by a candidate for the directorship of our library, I mentioned that the real value of the library [ or more generally any library ] is not “as a repository of dead text, but rather in its subject specialists, research librarians, and special collections.”   Apparently this raised some eyebrows.   So what is this “dead text?”

Simply put, “dead text” is unsearchable text, unstructured data, or similar materials.   Unfortunately libraries are filled with these materials, left stranded by the digital tide.  The term has nothing to do with the relevance, ephemeral nature, or importance of the material itself.  I would assert that part of the mission of any modern library is to resurrect this dead text and make these materials discoverable and usable by its patrons.

Similarly, I argue that enabling global access to the unique collections and resources of any library is of paramount importance as we enter the digital millennium.   Historically the role of the library is as an archive, and the librarian as a gatekeeper and inventory control officer.   However the benefits of a modern library extend well beyond these rather limited roles.   This transformation from protector and gatekeeper to docent, contextualizer, and facilitator is under way.

The most successful and effective modern libraries are not those with the largest stacks, but rather the greatest capacity to facilitate it patrons to access the widest range of materials, irrespective of the physical location of either.   They teach patrons to be savvy customers of materials positioned on a spectrum of quality and depth.   They inculcate a sense of intellectual curiosity, and the skills required to act on that curiosity.






Bacteria Treated Pepper?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Found this on the innocuous salt and pepper packet.   Begs the question: treated for, against, or with bacteria?

Rain Causes Cancer!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

… But Only In California

Even rain water cannot meet California’s proposed limits on hexavalent chromium ( aka chromium-6, Cr(VI), “Erin Brockovich Chemical” ).   The .06 ppb ( part per billion ) limit is more stringent that the .08 ppb actually present in rainwater.  ( See Kieber et al, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2002, 36 (24), pp 5321–5327 )  In fact, certain areas have rainwater which greatly exceed the the proposed standard, with 10 to 30 times higher concentrations.

Let the Enviro-Scare Begin

In the shadow of California’s announcement, various environmental groups and the Water Purification Industrial Complex have jumped on the bandwagon.   The EWG’s report makes it sounds as if most municipal water supplies are unsafe, cause cancer, and so on.   They disclose their bias with the cover of the report:

From this pipe, to your baby's sippy cup.

And on the landing page for their chromium web site:

"You may already be dead!"

But read the report.    With the exception of Norman, OK the highest levels detected were within 10 times the amount found in rain water.   So if this is such a ghastly toxin, its practically everywhere in comparable amounts.   If its in the rain, its in your vegetable garden.


I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Change is Difficult

And the Attachmate – Novell merger is no exception.   There are two types of people who will emerge from this transaction.   The first is those searching for relevance in a changing environment:

One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I for one welcome our new insect overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

And the second being the rest of us, who hope that out of the chaos will emerge a vendor I still want to do business with, offering product I want to buy.   Or an an employee, to survive potential bloodshed, strife, and uncertainty.    Attachmate, playing the role of the ants, provided us with a glimpse of the future, in so much as is possible prior to “the close of the transaction.”


Pigeon Superstition and Myth Marketing

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

B. F. Skinner - Thinking In The Box

Psychologists call a non-causal belief that an action leads to a reward a “pigeon superstition.”  The birds can be so suggestible that the last thing happening at the moment of a favorable outcome is strongly associated with the outcome.  If the bird was standing on one leg, cooing, flapping its wings, and accidentally food appears, it will repeat that behavior over and over assuming the action caused the reward.

Since the bird is now engaged in these behaviors more often, the random event of food appearing will eventually coincide with the ritual – reinforcing the association.  Eventually the bird is convinced that only the dance brings the food.

Corporations develop their own marketing rituals.    And evolve belief systems which can lead to a situation where the products and customers are less important that the act of marketing itself.   But without measurable performance criteria, it cannot be known if a good outcome is strategy or accident.


Finally A Way To Stop WikiLeaks!

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I don’t know what “diplomatic strength” underwear is, but I assume its capable of dealing with a lot of stupid crap.   With the volume of WikiLeaks, I assume these are super absorbent indeed.