Friday Links

See, the fact that ghosts are showing up in the hagiography of a medieval saint at all is actually a really interesting phenomenon, what with all the Christianity in Europe at the time. From a Christian perspective in the late antique period, no one was supposed to believe in stuff like ghosts. According to theologians such as St Augustine, “The dead by their nature are not able to involve themselves in the affairs of the living”.

After being tipped off that students had cheated, he looked at their activity in the learning-management system and was able to see that close to 20 percent of them had opened course materials during the closed-book test. And that, he realized, didn’t account for anyone who broke the rules some other way.

My project is to build a stand-alone printer that prints random poems from a dataset of out-of-copyright texts. A little portable Bot-ish (sic!) Library to showcase the British Library collections and fill the world with more poetry.

Apollo 12 was the second manned mission to the Moon, and it holds a rare distinction in the annals of space exploration. It was the first (and, so far, only) time that people have gone to the Moon and picked up something left behind by someone else.

In the US, as elsewhere, universities are increasingly reliant on income from tuition and housing as a source of revenue, especially in the case where institutions are unable to raise tuition even as federal and state funding continues to plummet.

“For as long as humans have travelled for leisure, they have travelled to watch death, to view cadavers and relics,” writes geographer Tony Johnston. “Roman Gladiatorial games attracted crowds from around the Empire; medieval European pilgrimages to Christian relics of death sites were common; nineteenth-century tourists and locals visited Parisian morgues which could see 40,000 visitors per day.”

“Considering the diversity of sites, consumption of death by tourists is essentially a continuum, with educational, authentic and history-centric at one end, and synthetic, entertainment-focused and inauthentic at the other,” Johnston writes. The London Dungeon, for example, markets self-styled “gory and gruesome” theatrical performances, while the Auschwitz site means to educate. Yet Johnston quotes a Polish tourist company that promotes a program for stag parties that take place in the concentration camp: “Quad biking in the morning then visit one of the world’s most haunting museums.”

The long boom of the post-war period gave us trades union militancy, “women’s lib”, the Black Panthers, the gay rights movement and the legalization of abortion and homosexuality. Our recent stagnation has given us Trump and Brexit – and of course the economic crisis of the 1930s yielded much worse.

Which is another way of saying what Ben Friedman wrote in The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth – that economic growth gives us liberalism and demands for equality whilst stagnation and regress give us political reaction.

The hymn Amazing Grace was set to its current tune more than fifty years after it was written. Because it was written in common metre, it can also be sung to Mack the Knife, Sympathy for the Devil, the Pokemon theme, and the Gilligan’s Island theme.

Saturday Links

Debates about whether to bar anticapitalist views from the classroom are not new. British lawmakers have considered similar bans on numerous occasions since the 1917 Russian revolution. But previous British governments refused to forbid materials from radical groups – including communists – from British classrooms, even at the height of the cold war.

Meanwhile in the US, legislation barring the teaching of “subversive” doctrines proliferated. States and towns demanded loyalty oaths from teachers and required that schools teach the “American way” of “free enterprise”. By the early 1950s, school curricula had become a central focus of anticommunist crusaders such as Senator Joseph McCarthy. Seemingly anodyne elementary-school stories such as Robin Hood were held up as dangerous “communist” indoctrination in “robbing the rich to give to the poor”.

I think it is also critically important to situate the study of digital curation so that it isn’t simply an esoteric matter that’s only relevant for cultural heritage organizations. Digital curation is set of concerns and practices that are present in students’ every day lives, and can be found all throughout society–and these practices have real, social and political consequences.

“The first person to claim extended interaction with aliens said that they were friendly, helpful, even noble beings,” writes Bader. In 1952, one George Adamski ran into Orthon, a five-feet-six-inch humanoid in a brown jumpsuit who hailed from Venus. Orthon was the first in a series of encounters with aliens who “resembled earthlings in every way,” writes Bader. “The beings spoke near-perfect English… They managed to hold down jobs [on Earth] by visiting their home planets only during work holidays.” Throughout the 1950s, many contactees referred to aliens as their peaceful “Space Brothers.”

Patent offices cannot make the connections to traditional knowledge because so much of it is either untranslated or just not easily accessible. As a result, it’s much more likely to be overlooked when examining patents. The Indian government attempted to solve this problem in a very pragmatic way: collect, translate, and make available every written account of traditional knowledge that they could find.

The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library is a repository of hundreds of books of traditional Indian medicine, compiled, scanned, and translated. In all, it runs to 34 million pages. Now, every time someone tries to patent some organic compound from the Indian subcontinent, patent examiners can look it up in the library and see whether it is being co-opted.

About Me

Developer at Brown University Library specializing in instructional design and technology, Python-based data science, and XML-driven web development.

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