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The Age of Misinformation October 18, 2010

Posted by pupfiction in InformationIssues.
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Alas, here I am after months of avoiding blogging. The problem is that my head has been way too caught up with personal matters. But more recently I find myself time and time again consumed with anger during routine Google searches and so it is that I turn to the more savvy netizens (our fickle and fleeting reader base?) to uphold and support my cause–the death of Yahoo! Answers.

As a librarian and self-declared “information specialist” I have no problem admitting that I frequently turn to Wikipedia. While it is certainly no Encyclopedia Britannica, there are references that one can check. So when Wikipedia is returned by Google as the first or second hit, I can deal with it.

However, when Yahoo! Answers is returned in the first page of results (as it increasingly is) I wince inside, and then click on it. I can’t help it. It’s like driving past an accident; you can’t help but look. Not only have I found numerous highly-biased erroneous answers voted “best” by fellow commenters, but the subject matter of the questions concerns me even more. As a pregnant woman who often uses the internet to find quick answers (knowing, of course, that calling the doctor is the best and final way to go), I am shocked by how many people ask crucial, health-related questions.

What are the requirements for people submitting answers? There are none. And to add insult to injury, Yahoo! supplements answers with responses from their “Knowledge Partners”, aka corporate sponsors. As much as we librarians and savvier internet users try to stress the inaccuracy and dubiousness of such sites to our more trusting friends, we are often shrugged off as fuddy-duddy Luddites (have I mentioned I’m 27 by the way?). At the risk of sounding like a sensationalist, isn’t this just another step (or large leap) in the “dumbing down” of our country? I plead with you, as a fellow American, don’t click on Yahoo! Answers; don’t support it. And maybe someday in the not-so-distant-future it will just be a bad memory!

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Niche Blog Friday: Turtles Eating Things September 10, 2010

Posted by pupfiction in Just for Fun, Niche Blogs.
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Have you ever noticed how the mouth of a turtle uncannily resembles a geriatric gumming his food sans-dentures? Neither had I until I saw this surprisingly cute blog – Turtles Eating Things. And if your Friday is as hectic as mine, then you’ll definitely need the smile pictures like these put on your face.

Niche Blog Friday: Paleo-Future September 3, 2010

Posted by pupfiction in Just for Fun, Niche Blogs, Of Interest, Technology can do anything.
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In times like these (whatever times these may be), it’s comforting to find out that most predictions about the future (eh hem…December 21, 2012) are DEAD WRONG. How do I know most predictions are wrong? Because this wonderful blog – Paleo-Future – has documented predictions dating from as far back as the 1870s and most of them are wrong. Some make astoundingly astute predictions about the way transportation, communication, and entertainment would evolve (although no one could predict the onslaught of reality TV programming that we’ve had to suffer). But when it comes to the larger issues – population growth, global food supply, disease, war, and even natural resources…we have no clue! So enjoy the often entertaining predictions of our predecessors especially if Hurricane Earl is making your day rather dreary!

Who needs candy or soda when you could get a paperback? August 9, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Of Interest, reading.
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Instead of candy – this early vending machine dispensed Paperback books. Called the Penguincubator, and developed by the founder of Penguin books, it was designed to help cheaply distribute books to the masses.

Story at Publishing Perspectives, via the always fascinating Mental_Floss.

Niche blog: Unitard Universe August 6, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Niche Blogs.
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This week’s niche blog, Unitard Universe, is an impressive collection of over 150 pages of photos of Celebrities, Musicians, Superheros, Fashion Models, and Pop Culture Icons all wearing the rarely flattering, usually disturbing, sometimes nightmarish, Unitard. This is where I’d typically say, “Enjoy!” however, perhaps today it is better to say, “Good Luck!”

Some are old photos... but were unitards ever really acceptable style?


Alicia Keys - not the worst of the bunch...


Oh, but then there's Antonio Sabato Jr. Yikes!


Sometimes, the unitard is a fashion statement... (this one is Dolce & Gabbana)


And of course, the always classic, Charo!

Book Review Monday: The View From Saturday August 4, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Book Reviews.
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I have been on a Young Adult book kick lately. I borrowed a whole pile of books for the summer from a nearby middle school. I happen to be on good terms with the librarian – so I had no limit and no late fees!

It was fun exploring the shelves, remembering books I loved when I was a kid and finding new books by beloved authors, such as the one reviewed today. E.L. Konigsburg is the author of one of my most favorite YA books. I was so excited when I found her other books, that I borrowed 3 of them!

The View From Saturday is a Newbury Medal winning story about a group of students who form an Academic competition team and how they came together as a group on their own terms. They each have their own story, but in that “what a small world” kind of way, their stories intertwine with each other through extended relatives, new marriages, new jobs, and school bullies on the bus. One of the young boys takes the initiative to recognize there is something special about each of them, and knows just how to appeal to each one in a way that starts the group on its way to becoming the close friends club they call The Souls. They are each incredibly intelligent, eccentric individuals with just the right life experience to facilitate excellence in academic competition. Like any well-crafted novel, you get the feeling their whole lives have prepared them for this one moment, and what a moment! It’s no spoiler to point out that you know the whole time they must win the competition – but the climax of the story coincides with that moment, at which they win not only the competition, but also the hearts of their audience, their teachers, the reader, and each other. They may be an odd bunch, but they are odd together and you will love them for it!

Niche Blog Friday: Mila’s Daydreams July 30, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Just for Fun, Niche Blogs.
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This blog has been making the rounds on the net this week, and it is just absolutely precious! A mom sets up the scenes she imagines her baby is dreaming about while she naps. Please go visit her blog to see many more! Enjoy!

November 2, 2010 UPDATE: Unfortunately, advertisers and others have be using unauthorized copies of these pictures and the photographer/mother has removed all but one from her own site. What was an absolutely gorgeous display of creativity and preciousness has been spoiled by disrespectful, greedy and malicious people. Although the mother has graciously permitted individuals to leave a few pictures on our sites, out of respect for her, her work, and especially the adorable Mila, we have chosen to take ours down. We wish them both the best of luck in all their pursuits, artistic and otherwise.

Horse-drawn Bookmobile? July 29, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Of Interest.
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Check out this image of what may be the first Bookmobile in the United States. Made in 1905 for the Washington County Library in Maryland, it was only around for 5 years before it was tragically, hit and destroyed by a train! Two years later it was finally replaced, but by a motorized version.

via Neatorama.

Should the Digital Divide Be Closed? June 23, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in education, InformationIssues.
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Interesting bit from the Freakonomics blog on the New York Times website, pointing to a new study that is showing a statistically significant DECREASE in math and reading test scores among students with home computer and internet access.

Meanwhile, students with limited access to computers and internet did not experience this statistical decrease. Does this mean that we should not be working to close the digital divide? That we should not be trying to make computers and internet accessible to every child?

Another point found in the study was that students who had computers and internet at home, but were limited in usage due to “more effective parental monitoring” did not experience the same negative effect on test scores. Perhaps the children in these households put the technology and internet access to more productive uses?

This study is seems to indicate that computers, internet and technology are not only not a magic pill to increase test scores, but without the proper guidance, may be a distraction and hindrance to students’ academic performance.

Does this mean that we should not close the “digital divide”? What do you think?

What’s the difference between a pig and a unicorn? June 22, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Legality.
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Back on April Fool’s Day, ThinkGeek advertised “Canned Unicorn Meat” was available.  See the ad here.

Recently, lawyers for the National Pork Board (NPB) sent ThinkGeek a Cease and Desist letter alleging that ThinkGeek is infringing on NPB’s trademarks when they say, “Unicorn, the new white meat”.

No worries though, ThinkGeek is clearly in parody-land, so their use of the phrase is considered Fair Use.  But thanks to ThinkGeek for providing us with the news, and even better, their hilarious handling of the letter and response!

ThinkGeek :: Blurgh! The ThinkGeek Blog – Officially our best-ever cease and desist.