Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A massive open online course (MOOC) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web.  In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs).  MOOCs are a recent development in distance education.  Although early MOOCs often emphasized open access features, such as open licensing of content, open structure and learning goals and connectivism, to promote the reuse and remixing of resources, some notable newer MOOCs use closed licenses for their course materials, while maintaining free access for students. 
See complete MOOC list at 

QUOTE  Your assumptions are your windows on the world.  Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.  attributed to both Isaac Asimov, professor and author, born Isaak Yudovick Ozimov (1920-1992) and Alan Alda, actor and director (b. 1936) 

"Primrose" is derived from the French primerole, itself derived from the Latin primula.  It's been the accepted name for several flowers over the years, including the cowslip, daisy, and wild rose; the current Primula classification includes over 425 species.  Since the 1400s, "primrose" has also been used metaphorically to refer to the first or best of something (primrose is popularly but erroneously thought to derive from prima rosa, "first rose"); so a "primrose path" is not necessarily simply one lined with primroses--given their metaphorical meaning, it can be seen as a description of the ultimate in loveliness.  The current connotation of "primrose path," however, come from the old wordsmith himself, Shakespeare.  Never one to use an old cliché when he could coin a new one, in the 1600s he first used the term to refer to a pleasant path to self-destruction.  In Hamlet (published in 1600-1), Act I, Scene III, these words are spoken by Ophelia:
I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,
As watchman to my heart.  But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;
Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede.
"recks not his own rede" means does not take his own advice 

DREAMING AT THE LIBRARY  Learning Dreams keeps taking new shapes and changing lives. Now a new partnership with libraries is taking off.  Andre came into the library after school.  What he wanted to know, he said, was how to make his own archery bow.  The reply went beyond the call number for a book.  As it happens, a craftsman in the neighborhood makes bows.  A few weeks later, Andre (not his real name) was working beside Riley Harrison at the Hack Factory, making his dream come true.  Such connections are the magic of Learning Dreams.  At the library, Andre talked to a librarian who sent him to a Learning Dreams staff member.  Learning Dreams located the craftsman and engaged Andre’s mother, who checked out the craftsman and gave her okay.  Along the way, Andre’s mom got the chance to talk about her own learning dreams.  Learning Dreams is a concept or approach more than a program.  It focuses on connecting families with the whole local learning ecosystem beyond schools—community centers, libraries, museums, businesses, employment centers and more.  Now nearing its twentieth year, Learning Dreams continues to evolve, shape-shifting to meet current needs and opportunities.  Its latest collaboration is with Hennepin County Library. As libraries everywhere are changing, they are becoming curators of learning as well as books.

Nov. 25, 2013  Sherman Alexie challenged his fellow authors to do something for the independent bookstores that have done so much for them, and they took him up on it.  On Nov. 30, hundreds of authors across the country will participate in the Indies First movement as part of Small Business Saturday.  They'll go to independent bookstores and volunteer as "booksellers for a day," helping out on one of the busiest shopping days of the season.  They've been promoting the event through social media for weeks, and many have placed the indie "buy" button in the top position on their websites.  "Now is the time to be a superhero for independent bookstores," Alexie wrote in a letter released through the American Booksellers Association and addressed to "you gorgeous book nerds."  The Seattle author said "grassroots is my favorite kind of movement, and anyway there's not a lot of work involved in this one."  Across Oregon, dozens of authors have signed up to help their local independent bookstore on Saturday.   Jeff Baker 

Nov. 26, 2013  A tiny book of psalms from 1640 has become the world's most expensive printed book as it was auctioned in New York for $14.2m (£8.8m).  The Bay Psalm Book is the first known book to be printed in what is now the United States.  It was published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by the Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  The book was meant to be a faithful translation into English of the original Hebrew psalms.  But it is not the most expensive book ever - that title goes to a handwritten Leonardo da Vinci notebook which sold for $30.8m in 1994.  The Bay Psalm Book is one of 11 copies known to remain in existence out of about 1,700 copies originally printed.

Nitrogen narcosis is a condition that occurs in divers breathing compressed air.  When divers go below depths of approximately 100 ft, increase in the partial pressure of nitrogen produces an altered mental state similar to alcohol intoxication.  Nitrogen narcosis, commonly referred to as "rapture of the deep," typically becomes noticeable at 100 ft underwater and is incapacitating at 300 ft, causing stupor, blindness, unconsciousness, and even death.  Nitrogen narcosis is also called "the martini effect" because divers experience an effect comparable to that from one martini on an empty stomach for every 50 ft of depth beyond the initial 100 ft. 

Every fifty feet down hits the human brain like one dry martini . . .two hundred feet down, the lake usually has the last laugh.
Gossip is inherent in a closed community.  
There are miles of road between "qualified" and "ready."
Paraphrases from A Superior Death by Nevada Barr

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NEVADA BARR is an award-winning novelist and New York Times best-selling author.  She has a growing number of Anna Pigeon mysteries to her credit as well as numerous other books, short stories, and articles.  She currently resides in New Orleans with her husband, four magical cats, and two adorable dogs.  Nevada was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras.  Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.  Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN.  For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio.  During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers -- Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.  Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word.  Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic.  Her first novel, Bittersweet was published in 1983. 

National Park Ranger Anna Pigeon goes beyond the call of duty in this Agatha and Anthony Award-winning mystery series.  She travels to National Parks around the country, solving mysteries in the wilderness and historic locales.  Author Nevada Barr draws on her own experience as a former park ranger to craft these award-winning novels.   See list of titles at 

FILM MISCONCEPTIONS  White Wilderness contains a scene that supposedly depicts a mass lemming migration, and ends with the lemmings leaping into the Arctic Ocean.  There have been some reports that the Disney film describes this as an actual suicidal action by the lemmings, but the narrator in the film states that the lemmings are likely not attempting suicide, but rather are migrating and upon encountering water, attempt to cross it.  If the water they attempt to cross is too wide, they suffer exhaustion and drown.  In 1982, the CBC Television news magazine program The Fifth Estate broadcast a documentary about animal cruelty in Hollywood, focusing on White Wilderness as well as the television program Wild Kingdom. Bob McKeown, the host of the CBC program, found that the lemming scene was filmed at the Bow River near downtown Calgary and not at the Arctic Ocean as implied by the film.  He found out that the lemmings did not voluntarily jump into the river but were pushed in by a rotating platform installed by the film crew.  He also interviewed a lemming expert who claimed that the particular species of lemming shown in the film is not known to migrate, much less commit mass suicide.  He also discovered that footage of a polar bear cub falling down an Arctic ice slope was really filmed in a Calgary film studio.  Hollywood misconceptions "unlearned" while traveling:  Plantation houses are not necessarily big and grand--they may just be houses located on plantations.  Christians were not forced to fight lions in the Colliseum, and Christians did not hide in catacombs (underground cemeteries). 

The mirrors, labyrinths, dreams and endless libraries of Jorge Luis Borges now occupy an immensely important position in world literature.
Stéphane Mallarmé proposed that every reader's duty was to ... theirs.  In endless libraries, like thieves in the night, readers pilfer names vast.
I dare not think that when I die My cherished books will perish too ; That, underneath the golden sky ... my way: Since unto me the thought was given Of endless libraries in Heaven, And never-ending reading days. — Robert Johnson.  Credo (extract)
The biographical description on the book jacket of The Ocean at the End of the Lane" says that author Neil Gaiman "dreams of endless libraries."
See also Endless Libraries blog at 

Misinformation is mistaken or incorrect information.  Disinformation is false information. 

Misquote leads to misinformation:  Al Gore did not say he invented the Internet.  Al Gore and the Internet (extract) by Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf  Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development.  No one person or even small group of persons exclusively “invented” the Internet.  It is the result of many years of ongoing collaboration among people in government and the university community.  But as the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President.  No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time.  Last year (March 9, 1999 interview) the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his role.  He said:  “During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”  We don't think, as some people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he “invented” the Internet.  Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore’s initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet.  The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were listening.  Read more and see excerpt of the 1999 interview on CNN at  Misinformation leads to disinformation as people who know better repeat the misquote.

Disinformation leads to misinformation when people purposely create urban legends and hoaxes, and then--those who believe them--spread them as fact. 

paregmenon  (puh-REG-muh-non)  The juxtaposition of words that have the same roots 
examples:  gracious grace, spacious space 

The first toy library appeared in Los Angeles in 1935, but it was not until the 1960s and 70s that the concept of the toy library reemerged.  This renewed interest was the result of funding of Head Start programs and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, availability of federal funds for day care centers, and the American Library Association establishing the Toys, Games, and Realia Evaluation Committee.  In the 1980s, the Lekotek movement arrived from Sweden; it is a program that provides services to children with special needs and their families in resource and play centers.  The USA Toy Library Association (USA/TLA) was formed in 1984.  See also
Learn about the International World Toy Library Association and link to information on World Play Day at 

restaurant  noun  1821, from French restaurant "a restaurant," originally "food that restores," noun use of present participle of restaurer "to restore or refresh," from Old French restorer.  In 1765 a man by the name of Boulanger, also known as "Champ d'Oiseaux" or "Chantoiseau," opened a shop near the Louvre (on either the rue des Poulies or the rue Bailleul, depending on which authority one chooses to believe).  There he sold what he called restaurants or bouillons restaurants--that is, meat-based consommés intended to "restore" a person's strength.  Ever since the Middle Ages the word restaurant had been used to describe any of a variety of rich bouillons made with chicken, beef, roots of one sort or another, onions, herbs, and, according to some recipes, spices, crystallized sugar, toasted bread, barley, butter, and even exotic ingredients such as dried rose petals, Damascus grapes, and amber.  In order to entice customers into his shop, Boulanger had inscribed on his window a line from the Gospels:  "Venite ad me omnes qui stomacho laboratis et ego vos restaurabo."  He was not content simply to serve bouillon, however.  He also served leg of lamb in white sauce, thereby infringing the monopoly of the caterers' guild.  The guild filed suit, which to everyone's astonishment ended in a judgment in favor of Boulanger. [Jean-Robert Pitte, "The Rise of the Restaurant," in "Food:  A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present," English editor Albert Sonnenfeld, transl.  Clarissa Botsford, 1999, Columbia University Press]  Italian spelling ristorante attested in English by 1925.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hispaniola, formerly Española,  second largest island of the West Indies, lies within the Greater Antilles.  It is divided politically into the Republic of Haiti (west) and the Dominican Republic (east).  The island’s area is 29,418 square miles (76,192 square km); its greatest length is nearly 400 miles (650 km), and its width is 150 miles (241 km).  Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1492 and named it La Isla Española, which was supposedly Anglicized to Hispaniola. During Spanish colonial times it was commonly called Santo Domingo (English: San Domingo), after the capital city, and this name is still sometimes used. 

Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, is situated on the southeast coast of the island of Hispaniola, at the mouth of the Ozama River, and is the oldest permanent city established by Europeans in the Western Hemisphere.  Santo Domingo was founded in 1496 by Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher Columbus, as the capital of the first Spanish colony in the New World.  The original city site was located on the left (east) bank of the Ozama River and was called Nueva Isabela in honour of Queen Isabella I of Spain.  It was destroyed by a hurricane, however, and was rebuilt in 1502 at its present location on the right bank of the river.  It became the starting point of most of the Spanish expeditions of exploration and conquest of the other islands of the West Indies and the adjacent mainland.  In 1586 Sir Francis Drake, the English buccaneer, sacked the city.  In 1655 its inhabitants defeated a British force that had been sent to seize the city.  From 1795 to 1809 Santo Domingo was under French domination, and then, after another brief Spanish period, it was conquered by invaders from Haiti, its neighbour to the west on Hispaniola.  Independence was proclaimed in 1844, and Santo Domingo became the capital of the new Dominican Republic until the republic’s annexation to Spain in 1861–65.  The city has been the Dominican capital since the restoration of independence in 1865.  The city’s name, officially changed in 1936 to Ciudad Trujillo in honour of the dictator Rafael Trujillo, was restored after his assassination in 1961.  Santo Domingo claims the oldest university in the Western Hemisphere: the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (founded 1538).   The historic district of the city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1990.  
Santo Domingo is known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán.  Two novels about Santo Domingo are The Goats of Santo Domingo by Robert McEvilla and The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa.   

Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina (1891-1961) ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930-1961.  He was referred to as The Chief or The Goat.  Find Trujillo in the media at 

Caribmap, a cartographic history of Caribbean islands

The common names "pansy" and "violet" are often used interchangeably.  When a distinction is made, plants considered to be pansies have four petals pointing upwards, and only one pointing down.  Violets have three petals pointing up and two pointing down.  Thus Viola cornuta is commonly referred to as a pansy.  The name pansy is derived from the French word pensée "thought", and was imported into Late Middle English as a name of viola in the mid 15th century, as the flower was regarded as a symbol of remembrance.  The name "love in idleness" was meant to imply the image of a lover who has little or no other employment than to think of his beloved one.  The name "heart’s-ease" came from the woman St. Euphrasia, whose name in Greek signifies cheerfulness of mind.   Modern horticulturalists tend to use the term "pansy" for those multi-coloured large-flowered hybrids that are grown for bedding purposes every year, while "viola" is usually reserved for smaller, more delicate annuals and perennials.  In Hamlet, Ophelia distributes flowers with the remark, "There's pansies, that's for thoughts" (IV.5).  Other poets referencing the pansy include Ben Jonson, Bernard Barton, Michael Drayton, Edmund Spenser, William Wakefield, and William Wordsworth.  Nathaniel Hawthorne published his last literary effort, an unfinished piece, entitled Pansie, a Fragment, sometimes called Little Pansie, a fragment in 1864.  D. H. Lawrence's Pansies:  Poems by D. H. Lawrence was published in 1929, and Margaret Mitchell originally chose Pansy as the name of her Gone with the Wind heroine, but settled on Scarlett just before the book went into print.  See images at 

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
harry  (HAR-ee) verb. tr., intr. 1. To harass, attack, or annoy, especially repeatedly.  2. To raid or pillage.  From Old English hergian.  Ultimately from the Indo-European root koro- (war, host, army) which also gave us harbor, harbinger, herald, harness, hurry, and harangue.  Earliest documented use:  1330.
mulligan  (MUHL-i-guhn)  noun  1.  A second chance, especially in golf where a player is sometimes given another shot to make up for a poor shot which is not counted.  2.  A stew made from odds and ends, using whatever is available.  Both senses of the word are from the name Mulligan.  It's not certain who these two Mulligans were -- maybe a golf player and a chef.  Earliest documented use:  1936.  

Nov. 19, 2013  Wikimedia Foundation has asked editing services firm Wiki-PR to cease and desist editing the Wikipedia site for allegedly authoring articles for money and passing them off as written by unbiased sources.  The foundation hosts Wikipedia and other sites, supported by a community of volunteers.  Its terms of use warn against "Attempting to impersonate another user or individual, misrepresenting your affiliation with any individual or entity, or using the username of another user with the intent to deceive..."   On its website, Wiki-PR offers Wikipedia page creation, monitoring and translation services, though it states that it never directly edits Wikipedia.  Editors of the English version of Wikipedia have started investigating into allegations of suspicious edits and sockpuppetry, the practice of using online identities for purposes of deception, Sue Gardner, executive director of Wikimedia, wrote last month in a blog post.  Wikipedia blocked or banned more than 250 user accounts, as it appeared that probably several hundred accounts may have been paid to write articles on Wikipedia promoting organizations or products, in violation of website policies and guidelines, Gardner wrote.  The online encyclopedia has been struggling with a credibility issue after reports that companies and some individuals have edited the site to promote their companies, products and viewpoints.  "Editing-for-pay has been a divisive topic inside Wikipedia for many years, particularly when the edits to articles are promotional in nature," Gardner wrote.  In October, Wiki-PR and its agents, who derive financial benefit from the editing, were banned by the Wikimedia community of independent volunteers from editing the English version of Wikipedia, according to the letter to French on Tuesday from Wikimedia's lawyer.  Wiki-PR is said to have stated its intention to work with the community to get the ban lifted, yet admitted on Monday that it has continued to "actively market paid advocacy editing services," despite the ban, according to the letter. Wikimedia said it had discovered evidence independently that Wiki-PR was continuing its paid advocacy.  John Ribiero

Nov. 23, 2013  As two giant “legs” crisscrossed the football field, Jonathan Waters watched the Ohio State University marching band give life to a complex vision.  Michael Jackson was moon-walking.  The quick-footed musicians — their protruding instruments within inches of colliding — drew wild applause from the crowd at Ohio Stadium.  In previous weeks, spectators in the stands had been treated to formations depicting surfers, Shrek and a galloping horse — and, this time, the King of Pop.  The performances have scored tens of millions of YouTube hits.  Today broadcast a live performance last month on the NBC morning show.  Headlines have peppered news outlets worldwide — from Britain’s Daily Mail to Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald. Katherine Jackson, mother of the deceased King of Pop, even phoned Waters to offer kudos.  Such far-reaching attention has elevated an already-celebrated group to a new artistic echelon — thanks to the premium put on eye-popping animations and pop-culture savvy, an extension of Waters’ philosophy of “tradition through innovation.”  On campus, the mass whose bodies form likenesses of battling pirate ships and Harry Potter maintains rock-star status.  “It’s really great to see the support,” said Ryan Barta, a 21-year-old senior trumpet player from Dublin.  “People are so intrigued by what we do.”  The stylistic sea change introduced by Waters has left audiences — both in the stadium and online — eagerly awaiting the group’s next feat.  Until this season, the OSU musicians used dozens of paper charts with coordinates detailing where members needed to be on the field at precise moments throughout a song.  But that method — common among bands at all levels — has its drawbacks.  “On paper, it’s static images,” Barta said.  “You don’t see the in-between.”  With 1 million pages printed during a season (price tag: $24,000), concerns about costs and waste arose.  A high-tech solution — an iPad application — was introduced this year after Barta and OSU band mate Charlie King pushed for the purchase of 45 iPads for squad leaders, drum majors and staff members.  (A $25,000 gift from a private donor covered the expense.)  The $6.99 software, known as Drillbook Next, allows users to upload charts whose results unfold, beat by beat, with the repeated tap of a finger.  Similar to flip-book animation, an entire routine plays out in real time on an iPad.  Each member’s name appears alongside his or her coordinates — so a director “can put names with a dot instead of calling out ‘A1,’  ” said Scott Rundell, creator of the app.  “You want to know exactly where people are all the time,” said Rundell, a computer engineer from Troy, Mich., and a University of Michigan graduate.  Kevin Joy

REPENT for saying literally when you mean figuratively!  For grammarians, every day is doomsday.  Nov. 25, 2013 Non Sequitur comic strip

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Monty Python reunion:  10 things you didn't know by Paul Kendall
Article includes images and the story that in 1975, the comedy troupe sued ABC for airing a show which cut out all the "rude bits" and rendered it unfunny.  In 2005, the troupe accused politician Chris Christie of using one of their sketches in a campaign advertisement without permission.  Within an hour, Christie took down the film.  The Telegraph  Nov. 22, 2013 

In today's world, the most widely used numeral system is decimal (base 10), a system that probably originated because it made it easy for humans to count using their fingers.  The civilizations that first divided the day into smaller parts, however, used different numeral systems, specifically duodecimal (base 12) and sexagesimal (base 60).  Thanks to documented evidence of the Egyptians' use of sundials, most historians credit them with being the first civilization to divide the day into smaller parts.  The first sundials were simply stakes placed in the ground that indicated time by the length and direction of the resulting shadow.  As early as 1500 B.C., the Egyptians had developed a more advanced sundial.  A T-shaped bar placed in the ground, this instrument was calibrated to divide the interval between sunrise and sunset into 12 parts.  This division reflected Egypt's use of the duodecimal system--the importance of the number 12 is typically attributed either to the fact that it equals the number of lunar cycles in a year or the number of finger joints on each hand (three in each of the four fingers, excluding the thumb), making it possible to count to 12 with the thumb.  The next-generation sundial likely formed the first representation of what we now call the hour.  Although the hours within a given day were approximately equal, their lengths varied during the year, with summer hours being much longer than winter hours.  Once both the light and dark hours were divided into 12 parts, the concept of a 24-hour day was in place.  The concept of fixed-length hours, however, did not originate until the Hellenistic period, when Greek astronomers began using such a system for their theoretical calculations.  Hipparchus, whose work primarily took place between 147 and 127 B.C., proposed dividing the day into 24 equinoctial hours, based on the 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness observed on equinox days.  Despite this suggestion, laypeople continued to use seasonally varying hours for many centuries.  (Hours of fixed length became commonplace only after mechanical clocks first appeared in Europe during the 14th century.)  Hipparchus and other Greek astronomers employed astronomical techniques that were previously developed by the Babylonians, who resided in Mesopotamia.  The Babylonians made astronomical calculations in the sexagesimal (base 60) system they inherited from the Sumerians, who developed it around 2000 B.C.  Although it is unknown why 60 was chosen, it is notably convenient for expressing fractions, since 60 is the smallest number divisible by the first six counting numbers as well as by 10, 12, 15, 20 and 30.  Although it is no longer used for general computation, the sexagesimal system is still used to measure angles, geographic coordinates and time.  In fact, both the circular face of a clock and the sphere of a globe owe their divisions to a 4,000-year-old numeric system of the Babylonians.  The Greek astronomer Eratosthenes (who lived circa 276 to 194 B.C.) used a sexagesimal system to divide a circle into 60 parts in order to devise an early geographic system of latitude, with the horizontal lines running through well-known places on the earth at the time.  A century later, Hipparchus normalized the lines of latitude, making them parallel and obedient to the earth's geometry.  He also devised a system of longitude lines that encompassed 360 degrees and that ran north to south, from pole to pole.  Michael A. Lombardi 

Salubrious comes from L. salus, health.  Lugubrious comes from L. lugubris, mournfulness.  The suffix involved is –ious.  It came through the French suffix –ieux, which came from the Latin –iousus, full of or characterized by. 

Spacious and harmonius are included in a list of 132 words ending in ious at   

The myth and magic behind that old book smell  The smell of old books is something that people around the world have found comforting and beautiful for centuries.  I'll be the first to admit that there really is something special about the smell of a library, it calms me.  Maha's blog, ReAuthored  Thanks, Paul.  Lignin, the stuff that prevents all trees from adopting the weeping habit, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good.  Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us." —From Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s Perfumes:  the guide

How to smell like a used bookstore 

Esteemed children’s book editor, publisher, and author Charlotte Zolotow, whose written works are lauded for their warmth and their realistic portrayals of childhood emotion, died Nov.  19, 2013 at her home in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.  She was 98.  Zolotow was born Charlotte Shapiro in Norfolk, Va., in 1915.  As a shy and awkward child whose family frequently moved, she has said that she found writing easier than talking.  She won her first award for essay writing in the third grade, and seemed to have found a lifelong calling.  In the early 1930s, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a writing scholarship, and  met fellow student and aspiring writer Maurice Zolotow.  The couple married in 1938 and settled in New York City where they had two children, son Stephen (Zee) and daughter Ellen , who later changed her name to Crescent Dragonwagon and is also an author.  With children’s book editor Ursula Nordstrom’s encouragement, Zolotow wrote her first picture book, The Park Book, illustrated by H.A. Rey, in 1944.  She went on to create more than 90 titles for children, including Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, which was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 1963; and William’s Doll, a 1972 book considered controversial because it features a boy who wants a doll.  Read more at 

An advertisement placed in The Seattle Times on Nov. 20, 2013 by a group hoping to encourage Washington state to keep up its fight to secure the coveted work on the new Boeing 777 includes a notable miscue.  At the top of the full-page ad, under the all-caps text "The Future of Washington," is pictured not a Boeing jet, but rather an A320 from archrival Airbus.  The ad, which prominently displays the logo of the Washington Aerospace Partnership, a coalition of business, labor and government groups championing the industry, urges state lawmakers to pass a large-scale roads-and-transit tax package that Boeing executives have said would make the state a more desirable venue for future projects. 

A computer program called the Never Ending Image Learner (NEIL) is running 24 hours a day at Carnegie Mellon University, searching the Web for images, doing its best to understand them on its own and, as it builds a growing visual database, gathering common sense on a massive scale.  NEIL leverages recent advances in computer vision that enable computer programs to identify and label objects in images, to characterize scenes and to recognize attributes, such as colors, lighting and materials, all with a minimum of human supervision.  In turn, the data it generates will further enhance the ability of computers to understand the visual world.  But NEIL also makes associations between these things to obtain common sense information that people just seem to know without ever saying — that cars often are found on roads, that buildings tend to be vertical and that ducks look sort of like geese.  Based on text references, it might seem that the color associated with sheep is black, but people — and NEIL — nevertheless know that sheep typically are white.  "Images are the best way to learn visual properties," said Abhinav Gupta, assistant research professor in Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute.  "Images also include a lot of common sense information about the world.  People learn this by themselves and, with NEIL, we hope that computers will do so as well."  A computer cluster has been running the NEIL program since late July and already has analyzed three million images, identifying 1,500 types of objects in half a million images and 1,200 types of scenes in hundreds of thousands of images.  It has connected the dots to learn 2,500 associations from thousands of instances.  The public can now view NEIL's findings at the project website, http://www.neil-kb.com 

Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears.  We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations.  We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.  Yale University Commencement (June 11, 1962)  John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The phrase 'cotton on to' (get to know or understand something) appears to be limited in usage to the UK and other countries that were previously part of the British Empire, notably Australia and New Zealand.  In the USA, especially in the southern states, 'cotton to' is used, with the slightly modified meaning of 'take a liking to'.  As early as 1648, in a pamphlet titled Mercurius Elencticus, mocking the English parliament, the royalist soldier and poet Sir George Wharton used 'cotton', or as it was spelled then 'cotten', as a verb meaning 'to make friendly advances'.  'Cotten up to' and 'cotten to' were both used to mean 'become friendly with'.  Whether this was as a reference to the rather annoying predisposition of moist raw cotton to stick to things or whether it alluded to moving of cotton garments closer together during a romantic advance isn't clear.  John Camden Hotten, in his Slang Dictionary, 1869, opted for the former derivation:  Cotton, to like, adhere to, or agree with any person; "to COTTON on to a man," to attach yourself to him, or fancy him, literally, to stick to him as cotton would.  The number of citations that use 'cottening' in a courtship context and the use of the 'cottening up' variant would suggest the latter is more likely; for example, William Congreave's comic play Love for Love, 1695:  I love to see 'em hug and cotten together, like Down upon a Thistle. The attaching of cotton strands to the bobbins of weaving looms is sometimes also cited as a source of 'cottoning on', but there appears to be no basis for that notion.  None of the early citations of the phrase mention that context. 

Ricotta is not so much a cheese as the leftovers after the curds have been strained to make other cheeses.  The whey is cooked again – ricotta means, literally, "recooked" – with sour whey or another coagulant.  Not only is this an ingenious way of using up something that would otherwise go to waste, it is also incredibly delicate and delicious.  Ricotta is light and low in fat.  Ricotta is curdled primarily by means of acid, rather than rennet – much as paneer, queso blanco and most fresh goat's cheeses are.  While rennet creates a protein structure that is dissolved by heat, acid causes the proteins to stick together.  This means ricotta doesn't melt, making it perfect for cooking and baking. 

To make mascarpone, combine equal amounts of heavy cream with half-and-half, warm, and use lemon juice to separate the mascarpone from the whey.  In both instances, the curds are strained and the resulting cheeses are ready for use in your favorite recipes.  It is far cheaper to make mascarpone at home than it is to purchase it from your grocer. 

You can substitute mascarpone and ricotta for each other--or you can mix them together.  Try them as sandwich spreads, icings or fillers in place of mayonnaise.   

subpoena  [Latin, Under penalty.]  A formal document that orders a named individual to appear before a duly authorized body at a fixed time to give testimony.  A court, Grand Jury, legislative body, or Administrative Agency uses a subpoena to compel an individual to appear before it at a specified time to give testimony.  An individual who receives a subpoena but fails to appear may be charged with Contempt of court and subjected to civil or criminal penalties.  In addition, a person who has been served with a subpoena and has failed to appear may be brought to the proceedings by a law enforcement officer who serves a second subpoena, called an instanter.  A subpoena that commands a person to bring certain evidence, usually documents or papers, is called a Subpoena Duces Tecum, from the Latin "under penalty to bring with you."  This type of subpoena is often used in a civil lawsuit where one party resists giving the other party documents through the discovery process.  If a court is convinced that the document request is legitimate, it will order the production of documents using a subpoena duces tecum. 

Link to definitions of diction, benediction, malediction and valediction at 

Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are all the same weather phenomenon; we just use different names for these storms in different places.  In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used.  The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.  The ingredients for these storms include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds.  If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods we associate with this phenomenon.  In the Atlantic, hurricane season officially runs June 1 to November 30.  However, while 97 percent of tropical activity occurs during this time period, there is nothing magical in these dates, and hurricanes have occurred outside of these six months.

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending between, and in contact with, a cloud and the surface of the earth. A landspout (once known as "Dust Tube Tornado") is just a type of tornado. It is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with a cloud and the surface of the earth. Unlike the Supercellular Tornadoes, it does not move from base of the cloud to the ground.  It actually develops near the surface and works it's way up.  A waterspout is a tornado over water.  Dust devils are whirlwinds tending to develop in hot and dry environments.  These form when hot air rises through pockets of cooler air above the ground.  Sometimes, this rising column of air can begin to rotate if environmental conditions are right.  As the air rises, the vortex will tighten and spin faster. As the whirlwind spins, it will bring in more hot air which will keep the air rising allowing these to be self sustaining making them long lived.  Unlike landspouts, dust devils are not in contact with the base of a developing thunderstorm.  This lack of additional lift from a thunderstorm's updraft will usually keep the whirlwind much weaker than a landspout.  See images at

In the heart of Brunswick County lies a 15,000-acre ecological wonderland where long-leaf pine savanna forests and pocosin bogs create a unique habitat that is home to a number of rare and semi-tropical plant species.  This special niche is the Green Swamp Preserve, administered by the North Carolina Nature Conservancy.  Green Swamp Preserve was created in 1977 when Federal Paper Board donated 13,000 acres of land in central Brunswick County to the North Carolina Nature Conservancy.  An additional 2,500 acres were donated in the late 1980s.  The preserve has grown as the Nature Conservancy has bolstered its holdings by purchasing more land.  The wet, acidic soil of the Green Swamp bogs provides the perfect habitat for carnivorous plants, which gain few nutrients from the nitrogen-poor mixture of peat and sand.  Instead, nature has given them a way to gain nourishment from other sources.  Various species are able to trap insects as prey and extract nutrients from their bodies.  The most famous of the carnivorous plants, or more specifically insectivorous plants, is the Venus flytrap, Dionaea muscipul . Insects are attracted to its sweet-smelling nectar and bright red leaves, which open and close similar to a mouth.  For many years Venus flytraps were commercially harvested, causing the species to be listed as threatened.  Additional pressure has come from a loss of habitat due to the construction of housing developments and golf courses.  The Venus flytrap grows naturally only in a 100-mile radius in southern North Carolina and upper South Carolina, which makes the Green Swamp Preserve key to their continued survival in the wild.  Another of the insectivorous plants is the elegant pitcher plant, of which four varieties are found within the Green Swamp Preserve. These slender, tubular plants also emit a scent that attracts insects.  Beautiful sundews aren’t true to their namesake.  These plants belong to the family Drosera, which comes from the Greek word drosos, or dew drop.  Sundews grow delicate tentacles that appear to be drenched in dew, however, they are actually covered in a sticky substance that will entangle any insect with which it comes in contact.  Butterwort gives off a musty scent to attract its meals.  Insects are drawn to the plant, which has leaves covered with a sticky mucous.  Once a victim lands on the leaves of the butterwort it is trapped, very much like a fly on commercial fly paper.  As an added precaution, the leaves of the butterwort curl upwards around its victim, ensuring it cannot escape.

How Lincoln changed the nation in 272 words  Commentary:  Gettysburg Address helped forge a new meaning of America  by Tim Heubner