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June 29, 2010

Something is deepy wrong in academia

A letter showing a boss's utter disregard for his employees and their families has surfaced. It's from 1996, but the linked site has more examples. This reminds me all too much of stories I've heard from people who work for video game companies, where every hour you aren't at work is seen as an hour stolen from the team. Chemistry Blog -- Something Deeply Wrong With Chemistry

Libraries to begin offering ebook checkouts of rare and forgotten lore

This is revolutionary. Libraries Have a Novel Idea - WSJ.com
SAN FRANCISCO—Libraries are expanding e-book offerings with out-of-print editions, part of a broader effort to expand borrowing privileges in the Internet Age that could challenge traditional ideas about copyright. Starting Tuesday, a group of libraries led by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library, are joining forces to create a one-stop website for checking out e-books, including access to more than a million scanned public domain books and a catalog of thousands of contemporary e-book titles available at many public libraries. . . . To read the books, borrowers around the world can download and read them for free on computers or e-reading gadgets. Software renders the books inaccessible once the loan period ends. Two-thirds of American libraries offered e-book loans in 2009, according to a survey by the American Library Association. But those were mostly contemporary imprints from the last couple of years—say, the latest Stephen King novel. The Internet Archive project, dubbed Openlibrary.org, goes a step further by opening up some access to the sorts of books that may have otherwise gathered dust on library shelves—mainly those published in the past 90 years, but of less popular interest.

June 22, 2010

Rudy Rucker's Ware series now free online

Rudy’s Blog -- Ware Tetralogy Online Now This is prefect for anyone who likes playful, brainy, sexy sci-fi. Rucker is singular. There is no one to compare him to. He's one of the most fun writers I've read who isn't, y'know, a humor writer. He's graciously put his whole Ware series (Software, Freeware, Wetware, etc) on his website for all of us to enjoy. Here are the official descriptions:
It starts with Software, where rebel robots bring immortality to their human creator by eating his brain. Software won the first Philip K. Dick Award. In Wetware, the robots decide to start building people­—and people get strung out on an insane new drug called merge. This cyberpunk classic garnered a second Philip K. Dick award. By Freeware, the robots have evolved into soft plastic slugs called moldies­—and some human “cheeseballs” want to have sex with them. The action redoubles when aliens begin arriving in the form of cosmic rays. And with Realware, the humans and robots reach a higher plateau.

June 19, 2010

Some schools worrying that close friendships are a problem

Overcoming Bias : All Together Now
Increasingly, some educators and other professionals who work with children are asking a question that might surprise their parents: Should a child really have a best friend? … The classic best-friend bond — the two special pals who share secrets and exploits, who gravitate to each other on the playground and who head out the door together every day after school — signals potential trouble for school officials intent on discouraging anything that hints of exclusivity, in part because of concerns about cliques and bullying. “I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults — teachers and counselors — we try to encourage them not to do that,” said Christine Laycob, director of counseling … “We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends.” … If two children seem to be too focused on each other, the camp will make sure to put them on different sports teams, seat them at different ends of the dining table or, perhaps, have a counselor invite one of them to participate in an activity with another child whom they haven’t yet gotten to know. … Such an attitude worries some psychologists who fear that children will be denied the strong emotional support and security that comes with intimate friendships. … School officials admit they watch close friendships carefully for adverse effects. “When two children discover a special bond between them, we honor that bond, provided that neither child overtly or covertly excludes or rejects others.”