“The ship Pequod, too, was a vestige of an earlier phase of the whaling industry: “She was a ship of the old school, rather small if anything; with an old-fashioned claw-footed look about her.” She was a ship trophied by past hunts, and named after “a celebrated tribe of Massachusetts Indians, now extinct as the ancient Medes.” Matt Kish’s portrait of the Pequod evokes its inimitability and intricacy, but Melville’s own image is at least as fantastic.”
“And yet, here I am. Fifty years old, irredeemably a bookseller, and more happy than if I’d…if I’d what? Well, than if I’d just about anything, I suppose. I’ll put it this way – if I were to win the lottery tomorrow, the only thing that would change would be the quality of my inventory. I just can’t imagine doing anything else. Even in those moments of blankest regret, when all the bills come due at once and my stock looks like it could have been chosen at random by a blind, crack-addicted three-year-old; when the office hasn’t been cleaned in a month and the coffee jitters set in because I forgot to eat my breakfast which is still sitting cold on the kitchen counter six hours later; when the phone rings and it’s some flea-market guy asking to “pick my brain” about a “real old book” he found buried in cowshit in his granddaddy’s barn; even when I get home after a house buy and realize that every book I just overpaid for smells irretrievably of cat piss…even then, I can only imagine one way forward: more books. And then, more books after that and, for dessert, more books. More books. More books. More books.”
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“One thing I really would like you to take away from this diary is a basic sense of how the United States, as a self-governing democratic republic, cannot long tolerate oligarchic and aristocratic ideas in its body politic. This is becoming an increasingly urgent issue for us today, because the American conservative movement today is basically a replica of the slavery-defending, anti-free labor, government-hating, insurrection minded, treason-breathing, violently inclined Confederacy. And, I want you to be able to instantly recognize and rebut the false histories that neo-Confederates have created. So, the first material I place before you is an excerpt from an important and emotionally powerful 1995 book, What They Fought For, 1861–1865, a masterful survey and summary of private correspondence from Civil War soldiers and officers, by James M. McPherson.”
“Grit gives you object oriented read/write access to Git repositories via Ruby. The main goals are stability and performance. To this end, some of the interactions with Git repositories are done by shelling out to the system’s git command, and other interactions are done with pure Ruby reimplementations of core Git functionality. This choice, however, is transparent to end users, and you need not know which method is being used.”
“The positive lesson for the US is that we have a lot of scope to give employers incentives to cut hours rather than jobs, including improving and expanding “work-sharing” (part-time unemployment benefit) programs as well as implementing new direct tax credits to firms that expand paid time off (paid sick days, paid family leave, paid vacations, and other measures).
The negative lesson is that focusing on supply-side issues such as training, education, and improved job-matching for the unemployed –as much sense as they make in the long run– is not likely to get us very far when the economy is at 9 percent unemployment. Denmark does far more than we could ever hope to accomplish along these lines and the unemployment there almost doubled between 2007 and 2010.”
“When I privately asked them why they had used R*-trees, while it was easy to check experimentally that they did not help, the answer was “it was the only way to get our paper in a major conference”. So my work has been made more complicated for the sole purpose of impressing the reviewers: “look, I know about R*-trees too!””
“This is a rich and engaging work of outstanding scholarship. Scholars in sociolinguistics, literature, and folklore will recognize the importance of the book for their fields. General readers will find it just plain interesting”
“What’s striking, though, is that even in January of 2010, when unemployment was over 10%, deficits received equal mention as unemployment. The media is certainly culpable here, but I’m guessing that their headlines are driven by the political discussion, which since the passage of the stimulus has been entirely warped. Goes to show that our political leaders, and the media by extension, will never give unemployment the attention it deserves.”
“…(So the shock was even bigger than the one leading up to the Depression because Geithner and his buddies helped blow the bubble and try to cover up wrongdoing on Wall Street.)
Geithner has been equally bad as Treasury boss. Indeed, there is hardly a single independent economist who thinks he has been responding appropriately to the economic crisis.
Sorry to say, but Geithner has long been a yes-man to the powers-that-be, who ships pallets of money wherever he is told without question or any follow-up or tracking whatsoever.
Even worse, Geithner has been called an idiot by Nassim Taleb and a “con man” by Time Magazine.
No wonder we’re going to eventually have another crash …
And because Geithner (along with Bernanke) have insisted that the big banks be bailed out at Main Street’s expense, that the status quo be protected instead of reformed, and that the U.S. insure the debts of the too big to fails, the next crisis will be even bigger than the last.”
“Here are five to start us off:
Like: Twitter / Don’t like: Facebook. The first thing we have to mention, which we have mentioned a few times already, is Twitter. The reasons we like Twitter are complex and I won’t pretend to understand them all, but I’ll throw out a few suggestions. First, its “follow” rather than “friend” model is more open, allows for the collaboration and non-hierarchy that the Internet and digital humanities values. Second, and related to this, Twitter is the place where content-creators—journalists, writers, artists, web developers, etc.—tend to hang out. We overlap with those communities, or at least seek to overlap with them, in productive ways. They are the distant nodes from which we hope new innovations will come. Third, Twitter, in the way we use it, is mostly about sharing ideas whereas Facebook is about sharing relationships. Scholars are good at ideas, maybe less so at relationships.
Like: Agile development / Dislike: long planning cycles. The second thing I’ll mention is agile development, the philosophy of “releasing early and often,” which we do not only with software/code but also with our ideas and writing when we Tweet, blog, and chat. We do this as good neighbors but also in the hope that releasing our code and ideas will improve with contributions from end points of our networks.
Like: DIY / Dislike: Outsourcing. Most of the most successful digital humanities projects are those done by scholar/technologists not those imagined by scholars and implemented by technologists. Likewise, the most successful digital humanists are scholars who know the technology, often those who are self-taught, not ones who seek a client-vendor relationship with technologists. We take this insight to heart in our hiring at CHNM, looking for people with formal training in the humanities and self-taught tech skills.
Like: PHP / Dislike: C++. Fourth, and following from the last point, we like PHP not C++. This is another way of saying we like the transparent, easy-to-learn, and simple (if sometimes ham-handed) technologies of the Web more than the more powerful, more sophisticated, more elegant, but less approachable compiled code of the desktop. A focus on getting the most out of simple, transparent, vernacular technologies allows us to keep the door to the field open to new entrants.
Like: Extramural funding / Dislike: Intramural funding. In one respect, this may seem obvious: everybody likes grants. In another respect it’s probably going a little too far to say we don’t like intramural funding: it is essential to building and maintaining capacity for our centers and staff. But it seems to me the most successful digital humanities projects are those that result from competitive grant making processes, especially the federal grant making process. Why is this? I can point to at least three reasons: 1) Attracting grant money keeps us innovating, which, like it or not, is a premium in our business. Grants are given for new work, not for more of the same. 2) Writing grants and serving on panels keep us in conversation with the field. We have to keep current and keep in touch with one another to justify our projects to grantmakers and to recommend others’ projects for funding. Increasingly, funding guidelines themselves require collaboration. 3) Unlike much traditional scholarship, which often requires one big deliverable (a book) after years of close-kept study, research, and writing, grant work requires defining and meeting a set of closely timed, concrete deliverables, a mode of work which encourages the kind of agile development so valued by the Internet and digital humanities community.”
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“At Nokia, informal mentoring begins as soon as someone steps into a new job. Typically, within a few days, the employee’s manager will sit down and list all the people in the organization, no matter in what location, it would be useful for the employee to meet. This is a deeply ingrained cultural norm, which probably originated when Nokia was a smaller and simpler organization. The manager sits with the newcomer, just as her manager sat with her when she joined, and reviews what topics the newcomer should discuss with each person on the list and why establishing a relationship with him or her is important. It is then standard for the newcomer to actively set up meetings with the people on the list, even when it means traveling to other locations. The gift of time — in the form of hours spent on coaching and building networks — is seen as crucial to the collaborative culture at Nokia.”
“First, “every author has to fill out a profile, so the reader knows who the person is and their education. And there is the additional requirement of a disclosure of any potential conflicts which might color their judgment.” Second, in response to the political question — after noting that my academics-are-liberal assertion might be a bit loaded — Jaspan replied that what The Conversation is ultimately doing is putting people in touch with “academics who are usually better informed than the general public because of their depth of knowledge and their sense of the complexity of the issue.”
Third, and most important, Jaspan sees The Conversation, true to its name, as leading to public debate. “One of the key things we want to do with a public-facing media channel is to make sure we have a range of views on something like the execution of Osama Bin Ladin, and that we have different interpretations of what happened and whether or not the means in which it was done were judicial.” The main goal, though: “We want to surprise our readers. We don’t want to give them the usual explanations, alternative insights, and viewpoints — and that will lead to lively conversation.”
Jaspan’s backers come from both the nonprofit and for-profit realms. The Conversation is backed by Ernst & Young, among other corporate supporters. And from academia, he has drawn on some of the top Australian research universities, in addition to Australia’s Department of Education. To find the academics, Jaspan and his staff did a “census” of academics based on their areas of expertise. Then, by word of mouth, they asked participating academics to recommend colleagues who would make good contributors to the site.”
“A recent post by Seth Godin attempts to define a librarian as something limited by format: print books are bad, digital bits are good. So librarians should become digital wizards, or something. I think the current hip term is “data sherpa who directs and engages conversations,” or some other bullshit. And a librarian is bad if she’s not continuously evolving and growing toes.
But a good librarian would never exclude a data format from the search results. You ask me for information on turtles and you’re getting everything I can find, and that includes printed books. But chances are, you’re going to wave your Kindle in my face and say, “I want it here.” And regardless of my reply, my eyes will tell you to go fuck yourself.
Sixty percent of the world’s people would kill to have a library filled with books. Some countries won’t even let you into a library without proper identification. But Americans, on our rapid decent from being a world power toward become the world’s bag boy, have lost sight of what has lasting value and moved on to what has recurring monthly fees. In response to Seth’s Blog, Bobbi Newman says, “One of the many roles of the public library is to ensure that all people have access to that information.“
And that is the fundamental difference with every current view of the library and the real purpose of the library: Libraries are for everyone.”
“The spread of anti-filesharing measures across the United States and Europe appears to be accelerating at a somewhat dizzying pace. On an almost daily basis during the last few months stories about controversial and sometimes draconian measures to deal with online infringement have hit the headlines.
Say what you like about the big movie and music studios – they certainly know how to coordinate their lobbying to perfection. Timing like this, with legislation being mulled in many major markets simultaneously, sends a powerful message.”