OCTOTHORPE This word is beginning to appear in a few dictionaries, but still seems mostly to be a jargon term of the North American telephone business for the handset symbol #. is just one of a plethora of names for the symbol. In the US it’s often called the key, because it has long been used to mark numbers related to weight, or for similar reasons the , which is one of its internationally agreed names. Elsewhere it is commonly called , a term dating from the 1970s that may have been a popular misunderstanding of . Many humorous or slangy terms have also been recorded, none of them with wide circulation: , , , and many others. In 1989, one of the international standards bodies settled on as the official name, seemingly on the grounds that most languages had an equivalent in its vocabulary, so it could be easily translated. As a result, the British Post Office, then responsible for telecommunications, settled on and it is still used publicly by its successor organisation, British Telecom (BT). With all these terms about, inventing a new one, especially such an odd-ball one as , would seem to serve no practical purpose. The evidence suggests that it was originally a jokey term among engineers at Bell Labs in the USA. In the early 1960s, the Labs were working on ways to interface telephones to computers and invented what is now called touch-tone dialing. This needed two additional special keys on handsets, both of which have since become standard. One of these is the symbol, usually known as the but which Bell Labs decided to call the key. The other was the symbol. The word has appeared in many forms, including , , , and as well as . There are at least five stories circulating about its source. Nobody is in any doubt about the first part, which is obviously enough from the Latin (or Greek) word for eight, as in for an eight-sided figure, because of the eight points on the symbol. It’s the second half that puzzles the experts. The says that it comes from the family name of James Edward Oglethorpe, the eighteenth-century English philanthropist who secured a charter for the colony of Georgia in 1732 as a refuge for debtors. This is very unlikely as Mr. Oglethorpe’s name is hardly a household word these days (at least, outside Georgia). A second story says it’s a whimsical creation based on the idea that the symbol looks like a village surrounded by eight fields. is the Old Norse word for a village, which appears in many English place names, such as or , though it’s not known in North America. This is possible, though perhaps a little stretched. A third story is documented, since Ralph Carlsen of Bell Laboratories about it just before his retirement in 1995. He records that in the early 1960s a Bell Labs engineer, Don Macpherson, went to instruct their first client, the Mayo Clinic, in the use of a new telephone system. He felt the need for a fresh and unambiguous name for the # symbol. He was apparently at that time active in a group that was trying to get the Olympic medals of the athlete Jim Thorpe returned from Sweden, so he decided to add to the end. (Jim Thorpe, a native American who has been described as the greatest athlete of the twentieth century, had won two medals at the 1912 Olympics in Sweden, but had been disqualified because he was found to have accepted money for playing baseball three years earlier, so making him a professional. His medals were finally returned in 1983.) In 2006 Douglas A Kerr documented his memories of the genesis of the term. Though the background facts about the development of the telephone system and the need for the new symbols match those of other sources, his story about the creation of the term is quite different. He says that it was a joke term, originally , invented by two friends, John C Schaak and Herbert T Uthlaut, who deliberately included the sound that would be difficult for speakers of some languages to say. Mr Kerr says that he and the others quietly introduced it into various documents until it caught on. http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-oct1.htm
In our current digital age, the hashtag identifies movements, events, happenings, brands—topics of all kinds. The “#” was a way to create clear, super-specific search term. The pound symbol had already pervaded other corners of the web. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) used the pound sign to represent chat rooms, or conversation “channels”; another social network called Jaiku also had them. For most people, pound symbols looked strange and new. A subset of true believers stood by the sign, and one twitter user called it a “hash tag,” being the British name for the sign. Eventually, “hash tag” became “hashtag.” The “#” didn’t always have this meaning, though. It’s had a few different lives. Whether called hash, pound, number sign, lumberyard—the symbol traces back to Ancient Rome. Its story starts with the Latin term , meaning “pound in weight.” This was abbreviated to , which we still use. When became standard, it was often drawn with a little bar across the tops of both letters (℔), just to show that the and the were connected. As scribes started writing this sign faster and faster, began to morph. Chris Messina chose to use this symbol for collating Twitter searches in 2007 because he wanted a sign that could be input from a low-tech cell phone. He had two options: octothorpe or asterisk. He chose the former. And that is how the pound sign (or number sign, or hash mark, or octothorpe) came into ubiquity on billboards, promotional materials, , and in your annoying friend’s conversations. In the world outside of Twitter, though, it is still “the number sign.” It has a lot of other uses, too. In chess, it represents a move that results in checkmate. In proofreading, it means a space should be inserted. On Swedish maps, it represents a lumber yard. Listen to Episode 145: Octothorpe b on December 16, 2014 at http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/octothorpe/ 16:29 Thank you, Muse reader!
Shirley Hazzard quotes “Poetry has been the longest pleasure of my life.” "They say it takes three to make a joke--one to tell it--one to understand it, and one to miss it."
Interview with "masterful wordsmith" Shirley Hazzard http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/donotmigrate/3616539/Shirley-Hazzard-answers-your-questions.html
Maria Salmon Mitchell (1818-1889) was born in Massachusetts and was one of nine brothers and sisters. Her family were Quakers and believed in education, and offering the same equality to men and women. Maria’s father built his own school, were Maria attended and also became a teaching assistant. Out of school, he also taught her how to use a telescope and at age twelve and a half, she helped him calculate the exact timing of annular eclipse. When she was 17 she opened a school of her own, but it closed a year later when she took a job as a librarian of Nantucket’s Athenuem Library. At the same time her father was hired as cashier of the Pacific Bank, which came with accommodation. He built an observatory on his roof and installed a four inch telescope with which he performed observations for the US Coast Guard. Maria helped her father with those measurements and it was during one observation session that she discovered a comet. She tracked its movements over the course of a few days and her father wrote to Professor William Bond at the Harvard University about his daughter’s discovery. Bond made the King of Denmark aware of the discovery, since the King had pledged to offer gold medals to each discoverer of a telescopic comet. Before Maria, the only women to have discovered a comet was Caroline Herschel and her astronomical fame rose dramatically after the discovery of the “Miss Mitchell’s comet” in 1847 (known today as C/1847 T1). Maria continued working as a librarian and later became the first professional woman astronomer in the United States, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences voting her the first women member in 1848. Her work enabled her to travel in Europe and on her return she was presented with a new telescope bought with money collected by women for the first women astronomer of the United States. She used it to study sunspots and other astronomical events, and discovered that sunspots are whirling vertical cavities and not, as previously thought, clouds. In 1865 she became professor of astronomy at Vassar College, the first person (male or female) appointed to the faculty. She was also named as Director of the Vassar College Observatory, where she was permitted to use the 12 inch telescope, the third largest in the US at the time. Read more and link to information on other female astronomers at http://www.sheisanastronomer.org/index.php/history/maria-mitchell
Mark Your Calendars! Read Across America Day is March 2, 2015
Oh, the Places You'll Go when you read! March 2, 2015 is the National Education Association's Read Across America Day and this year, the book is the Seuss classic, Oh, The Places You'll Go. To make your event Seussational, go to Plan a Reading Event for Read Across America for tips and ideas to plan your own event. http://www.nea.org/grants/886.htm Thank you, Muse reader!
read by John Lithgow 7:19
Oh the Places You'll Go (text) http://w3.palmer.edu/vanderhorn/Word%20docs/Dr.%20Seuss.pdf
U.S. regulators on February 26, 2015 approved the strictest-ever rules on Internet providers, who in turn pledged to battle the new restrictions in the courts and Congress, saying they would discourage investment and stifle innovation. The rules, which will go into effect in coming weeks, are expected to face legal challenges from multiple parties such as wireless, cable and other broadband companies and trade groups that represent them. Experts expect the industry to seek a stay of the rules, first at the FCC and then in courts, though the chances for success of such an appeal is unclear. The new regulations come after a year of jostling between cable and telecom companies and net neutrality advocates, which included web startups. It culminated in the FCC receiving a record 4 million comments and a call from President Barack Obama to adopt the strongest rules possible. The agency's new policy, approved as expected along party lines, reclassifies broadband, both fixed and mobile, as a more heavily regulated "telecommunications service," more like a traditional telephone service. In the past, broadband was classified as a more lightly regulated "information service," which factored into a federal court's rejection of the FCC's previous set of rules in January 2014. The shift gives the FCC more authority to police various types of deals between providers such as Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and content companies such as Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) to ensure they are just and reasonable for consumers and competitors. Internet providers will be banned from blocking or slowing any traffic and from striking deals with content companies, known as paid prioritization, for smoother delivery of traffic to consumers. The FCC also expands its oversight power to so-called interconnection deals, in which content companies pay broadband providers to connect with their networks. Republican FCC commissioners, who see the new rules as a government power grab, delivered lengthy dissents. Their colleagues in Congress hope to counter the new rules with legislation. Alina Selyukh http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/26/us-usa-internet-neutrality-idUSKBN0LU0CA20150226
http://librariansmuse.blogspot.com Issue 1262 February 27, 2015 On this date in 1922, a challenge to the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, allowing women the right to vote, was rebuffed by the Supreme Court of the United States in Leser v. Garnett. On this date in 1951, the Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution, limiting Presidents to two terms, was ratified.