In the second half of the 19th century, few Americans were better known–and revered–than the man whose face looks out today from the $50 bill. Ulysses S. Grant led Union troops to victory in the American Civil War, then thwarted attempts by President Andrew Johnson to suppress fundamental civil rights of newly freed black Americans. […]
How will libraries hold onto ebooks and other digital files like mp3s so that readers and scholars in the future can still read them? The current state of affairs relies on license agreements with publishers who in turn license to vendors, who in turn, license to libraries. Hardly sustainable when files can and do disappear when either the publisher or the vendor no longer offer them.
Libraries rely on the right of first sale to lend print books, and need an analogous right in the world of ebooks and digital music. To that end, the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries and the Internet Archive filed a brief on Feb. 14, 2017 in support of Redigi, a company that sells used mp3 files to music customers. The brief argues that an evaluation of Fair Use should consider the rationale of the First Sale doctrine, and other specific exceptions. It argues that enabling the transfer of the right of possession should be favored under Fair Use.
It is essential to libraries, and the term existential would not be too great a term to use, to be able to own digital files, and care for them via preservation and library lends (e.g. to one person at a time) just as they do with print. Can readers count on books being available a year or two or five after publication? The existence of libraries has made this possible from their inception until now.
The flexibility of digital content allows for an endless array of licensing opportunities (e.g. multiple simultaneous users) which is mutually beneficial to both publishers and users. It is not practical to rely only on first sale for library delivery of econtent. The two modes for libraries to acquiring ebooks, licensing and first sale are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent.
On Wednesday, Earthlings were shocked—and certainly relieved—to finally get a push notification about planetary discovery, not political corruption. News broke that an international team of scientists had spied seven Earth-sized planets orbiting the nearby star TRAPPIST-1. Three of those planets are located in the…
Ursula K. Le Guin Wants Everyone to Know the Huge Difference Between 'Alternative Facts' and Fiction
The word “alternative” appears both in the fun new craze sweeping the government (“alternative facts”) and in a few science fiction staple ideas (“alternate history” and “alternate universe,” for example). Despite that superficial similarity, legendary scifi author Ursula K. Le Guin wants to make sure no one confuses…
What do to with the flat screen TV in a midcentury home? Jeff got creative — and designed and built a custom TV cabinet that holds a 32″ LCD TV, BluRay player, and soundbar. Envious? He’s in the Portland/Seattle area can make one for you, too!
After looking at hundreds of images of vintage cabinet TVs, I designed and built a retro TV cabinet to house a 32″ LCD TV, BluRay player, and soundbar. It matches my teak credenza, McCobb dining set, and surfboard coffee table. I didn’t work from a set of plans, but looked at a ton of pictures of old TVs and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted it to look like.
I thought your readers might like to take a look at them. Thanks!
I took the photos before Christmas (and before I read your suggestions on taking good pictures!). The red ribbon is because the unit was a gift for my wife, and the show on the TV is from “Christmas with Bing and Frank.”
The basic case is just 3/4 birch plywood with edge banding screwed together with a Kreg jig (affiliate link). I sized the top rectangle for the new TV that I bought — a 32″ 1080p LED TV, and tried to adjust the bottom two openings for visual scale. The unit is about 34″ tall and 30″ wide.
The gold panel in the center folds down on cabinet hinges and houses the Bluray/DVD player. I cut a big oval out of a piece of plywood and covered it with fabric for the bottom rectangle/speaker grille. The soundbar sits behind the fabric and a wireless sub sits behind the TV. I put a power strip inside so only one cord comes out. And, there’s a remote repeater inside, so you can run the unit without opening the front panel. The back is tempered hardboard (Masonite) that I custom drilled for a clean look. The legs are Waddell legs and plates (*affiliate link) from Amazon. The gold bezel that frames the TV is spray-painted hardboard.
I’m glad you like the unit and the look. Perhaps people will be inspired by the project, so let me know if you’d like to share it on your awesome website.
Awesome, Jeff. I am personally very inspired. So much so that shortly after we started our conversation on line, I went searching and found a week-long woodworking class to take in April. I will learn all the basics about tools, etc., and make a new woodshop project every day. After the basic class, there’s another week on cabinet-making, and I may need to go for that, too. I’ve always been interested in woodworking — my Dad has mad skills — and Kate also inspired me tremendously. Let this be the year of epic DIY — with no sawed-off fingers, though!
Thanks for sharing all these photos! Fantastic!
To contact Jeff:
Want Jeff to make you one of these? Email him at email@example.com. Current pricing: $700 for an empty unit custom to your TV; $1100 for one with 32″ 1080p LCD TV, Bluray/DVD player, and 28″ soundbar with wireless sub. Shipping/delivery would be extra (from Hood River, OR). Jeff also wanted me to note that he currently has a back up, and anyone wanting one would be looking at May or June.
The post Jeff builds a midcentury modern TV cabinet for his flat-screen TV appeared first on Retro Renovation.
George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984 occupied the number one spot on Amazon’s best-selling books list yesterday, where it remains today. A cautionary tale about a brutal, amoral dictator has evidently felt relevant to people lately. But as of today, Amazon—the world’s largest bookseller—is unable to keep up with…
The Australian Government has just released the Productivity Commission’s report into Australia’s Intellectual Property Arrangements.
It’s a move that appears to have been designed to avoid some of the controversy of the copyright wars by releasing the report just before most Australians settle into their summer break.
The report does something that is very difficult in copyright debates: it sets out a rigorous, evidence-based case for reform. Academics have praised the “independent and systematic study that has assessed the effectiveness, efficiency, adaptability and accountability of Australia’s IP [intellectual property] laws”.
Good evidence about how well intellectual property laws are working is sometimes hard to come by. Intellectual property laws, including copyright and patent law, have to be very carefully calibrated. If they are too weak, it is difficult for investors to recoup their expenses in bringing new inventions, books, music and films to the market.
But when intellectual property laws are too strong, they restrict innovation and access to knowledge. They prevent people from making new inventions and creating new works, because access to existing materials becomes too expensive or difficult.
For consumers, they can make access to knowledge and culture much more expensive, and they can get in the way of education and the legitimate needs of disadvantaged members of society.
Scholars have pointed out for many years that the optimal balance between protection and access to knowledge is extremely difficult to pinpoint. As a result, intellectual property policy is a deeply controversial and emotional political arena. In the past, decisions about IP policy have been made on the basis of heavy corporate lobbying, gut-instinct, hunch and guesswork.
The Productivity Commission’s report is important because it reviews the available evidence and provides recommendations that we have good reason to think will improve Australia’s intellectual property laws.
After reviewing the evidence, the Productivity Commission’s view is that copyright law is not balanced, and that our laws:
[…] are skewed too far in favour of copyright owners to the detriment of consumers and intermediate users.
Making Australian copyright law ‘fair’
Probably the most significant – and controversial – recommendation is that Australia should introduce a “fair use” exception for copyright infringement.
Fair use allows people to use copyright material in ways that are fair, without asking for permission first. It has been extremely important in the United States for many different industries.
Filmmakers use it to make documentaries, libraries use it to digitise and preserve their collections, scholars use it for important data- and text-mining research, and search engines use it to index the web.
[…] are too narrow and prescriptive, do not reflect the way people today consume and use content, and do not readily accommodate new legitimate uses of copyright material.
The report is detailed and comprehensive, and covers a lot of ground. The Productivity Commission recommended a raft of other changes to modernise Australia’s copyright laws, including:
preventing copyright owners from overriding consumer rights through restrictive contractual agreements
allowing Australian consumers to break digital locks on content that prevent lawful activities (like fixing a tractor)
fixing a decade-long oversight in our “safe harbour” regime that makes it extremely difficult for home-grown equivalents of YouTube or social media platforms to host content in Australia
clarify the law to ensure Australian consumers can use VPNs to access content lawfully available in other countries
ensure that the results of publicly funded research are made freely available to the public under Open Access policies
remove an exception from competition law that allows software and content companies to create exclusive deals and other restrictive licensing agreements that would otherwise be anti-competitive.
Restarting the copyright wars
The timing of this report seems to be designed to minimise some of the controversy that it will generate. The commission’s report warns that it will be extremely difficult to “pursue change in the face of strong vested interests”.
The Copyright Agency, the Australasian Performing Right Association and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA AMCOS), prominent players in the book industry and several authors have all issued statements that are highly critical of the commission’s report.
Their essential concern is that the expansion of user rights will result in reductions in revenues and investment in Australian creative industries and Australian creators.
The great difficulty here is that copyright law is extremely complex, and the debate is so emotive that the details often get lost in the heated arguments. What little empirical evidence we do have to guide policy is glossed over in a strong reaction against change.
The reaction of the established copyright industries is understandable. It has been very difficult for publishers and distributors to adapt to the internet, and they are only now beginning to develop business models that work in the digital age. The process has been painful to say the least.
In this context, many publishers, distributors, and creators feel besieged by efforts to reform copyright law for the digital age. But it is too late now to go back to a pre-digital world.
The restrictions on parallel importation, which have kept prices high for books in Australia, are a good example of laws that just don’t work for digital markets. If we expect consumers to obey copyright rules, it is clear that we need to work to make sure that the law and business models treat them fairly.
The great shame about the copyright wars is that sensible, evidence-based proposals for reform get mixed up with highly emotive reactions to “piracy”. The proposals by the Productivity Commission are careful and well justified. The evidence we have is that they are not likely to harm the actual revenues of Australian creators.
There is no doubt that we need new business models – and public funding – to support creators in the digital age. This is the hard work of real practical change that needs to happen to enable our creative industries to thrive.
The good news is that overseas examples show that it is possible for creators to make money in the digital economy. The Productivity Commission’s recommendations are a bet that digital is the future, and that making Australia’s laws more efficient and effective is critical to the health of our future industries.
We’re looking forward to the government’s plans to implement these recommendations, but it looks like 2017 will be a heated year for copyright debates.
Nicolas Suzor is the recipient of an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship (project number DE160101542) and receives other project funding from the ARC. He also leads projects funded by industry groups, including the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Australian Digital Alliance. Nic is also the Legal Lead of the Creative Commons Australia project and the deputy chair of Digital Rights Watch, an Australian non-profit organisation whose mission is to ensure that Australian citizens are equipped, empowered and enabled to uphold their digital rights.
Shereen Parvez does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
Roman Fedortsov is a deep sea fisherman in Russia. And he’s been taking photos of OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT?
I saw my first framed vintage costume jewelry Christmas tree — pearls, rhinestones, brooches, earrings, bracelets, charms and pins all artfully arranged and glued onto black velvet — about 10 years ago when I visited my Dad’s hometown of Aneta, North Dakota. It was still hanging in the living room of an old friend of the family, who had made it decades earlier. She told me that back in the day, women saved their costume jewelry when it broke. (That explains why you sometimes see jars full of broken costume jewelry at estate sales.) Then, before the holidays, they would all get together and use the bits to make Christmas trees or crosses. I presume they traded its and bits. What a lovely art form.
Of course, absolutely mesmerized, I tried to buy the lovely, gracious woman’s costume jewelry Christmas tree, or the cross, right off the wall. She really seemed to consider my offer, possibly because she had never seen anyone go so crazy over something she’d made. In the end, though, she wouldn’t sell them. Fast forward 10 years, and of course I’ve been collecting lots of broken jewelry and have enough to do my own. Next year: I’m inviting a friend over for tree-making!
I was reminded of all this when several readers uploaded photos of their vintage costume jewelry Christmas trees in our weekend uploader — 375+ photos!!
Above: Naomi’s costume jewelry Christmas tree. She wrote:
“My fiance’s mother made this for him years ago… There are even lights on it!”
This is one of my most treasured pieces. It was made by a dear family friend using old costume jewelry from her aunt’s estate. Look closely and you will find old brooches, earrings, and charms that individually aren’t worth much but set together like this becomes an heirloom.
Here are two that I just saw in a retirement home lobby that a woman that lives there made ! Stunning in person !
Found mine at a flea market for $1. It’s one of my favorite decorations!
I adore these. Anybody who knows me knows aqua is my color so I’m so happy to have found this at a yard sale.
My grandmother used to make these and she’s no longer with us. So now I cherish mine even more.
I made one out of vintage family jewelry my mom gave me!
Above: Added by a mystery reader in a follow-up uploader. She/he said:
I saw the story about these, and I love the one I found a few years ago, so I thought I’d add to the collection – a little out of focus…
Above: Featured to our Facebook page and used here with permission. Mary says:
My mother-in-law made one for us utilizing my husbands grandmothers old costume jewelry. I think it’s wonderful! I wish I had one from my grandmother jewelry as well!
My Mom made this one. I will cherish it forever.
Above, reader Nancy Long said:
Close-up of the jewelry picture. The jewelry picture has tiny Christmas lights I found this at an antique mall about 10 years ago. I see something new every year.
And above, not a jewelry tree, but an embroidered tree that includes sequins. Such lovely needlecraft. Mystery reader said:
Look closely and you will see little white doves and snow flakes on the silver tree.
Even though most are treating Donald Trump as America’s “president-elect”, the reality is that until December 19 he is just the Republican nominee who probably will become the president-elect of the United States.
When Americans go to the ballot box during a presidential election they do not cast their vote directly for a presidential candidate. Instead, they choose a group of electors – 538 in total – who in turn have the power to elect the president.
Who are these electors? And what are their actual powers?
Each American state has slightly different rules on how the electors are selected.
In general, state political parties control the selection process by choosing, before the election, a group of people they trust and who have agreed and/or pledged to vote for their party’s nominee.
In most states, all preselected electors of the political party that receives the majority of the state’s popular vote become the presidential electors for their state. According to the Constitution, members of the US Congress, as well as any person “holding an office of trust or profit under the United States”, are not allowed to become presidential electors.
Consequently, the electors are an eclectic group of people. Some of them are well-known state politicians, including current and past members of state legislatures and governors. Others are just unknown private citizens with loose ties to a political party, including at least one teenager involved in politics for the first time.
While there is no federal law or constitutional mandate that presidential electors actually vote for the candidate they have originally agreed or pledged to vote for, 29 states have state laws and regulations that try to restrict their freedom.
The law in each state is, once again, slightly different. But most states with restrictive regulations simply state that electors are “required” to vote for the nominee of the party that selected them.
Electors who go against this “requirement” can face a fine (for example, US$1,000 in Washington), felony charges (in New Mexico), or simply end up immediately replaced by a different elector (Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah).
In 1952, the US Supreme Court argued that states and state parties are allowed to require a pledge from their potential electors. The decision said such a requirement was not unconstitutional, even though it was legally unenforceable because it would violate the electors’ assumed constitutional freedom.
Therefore, some believe the Supreme Court would not uphold any state penalty against electors changing their vote.
What will happen on December 19?
If every elector votes as they are supposed to, Trump will be elected president with 306 Electoral College votes, while Hillary Clinton will receive 232 votes. But this is unlikely to happen.
An online petition, which has collected nearly 5 million signatures, is calling on Trump electors to vote for Clinton instead. If only 38 out of the 306 Trump electors decided to do so, Clinton would be elected president.
This, however, is not going to happen. It is extremely improbable that any Republican elector would ever agree to flip and vote to elect the Democratic candidate. But this is not the only option.
A group of Democratic electors who call themselves the Hamilton electors have been trying to convince other Democratic electors to break rank and vote for a Republican president that is not Trump. Their choice would probably be Mitt Romney or John Kasich, but they are open to any suggestion from the Republican camp.
Their hope is to attract enough electors from both sides to gather 270 Electoral College votes and elect a Republican who is not Trump.
This option seems to be gaining some momentum. A Democratic elector from California has filed a lawsuit seeking that Clinton release her electors from their pledge. And a Republican elector from Texas has announced he will not vote for Trump.
What could happen is that 37 out of Trump’s 306 electors decide to either join the Hamilton electors or simply vote for a different Republican candidate.
If at least 37 Trump electors do not vote for Trump on December 19, then no candidate will have the absolute majority of Electoral College votes required to be elected president, and the US House of Representatives will choose the president among the three candidates with most Electoral College votes.
Although even this scenario is a long shot, it is the most likely to happen – if anything at all is going to happen on December 19. It is also, politically, probably the most desirable outcome.
If given a choice, Republican members of the House may be able to reach a compromise with their Democratic colleagues and elect “the other Republican”. This would prevent Trump becoming president, and avoid having an obscure institution such as the Electoral College simply change the election outcome with a move many would perceive as anti-democratic.
Alternatively, should the House decide to elect Trump anyway, they would be assuming all the responsibility of their choice – and their constituents should take note of their action.
What will happen on December 19 is probably a record number of electors breaking their pledge and voting for a different candidate. Whether this will be of any consequence depends on how many Trump electors are persuaded to change their vote.
Why keep the Electoral College?
The bottom line is that even though many Americans have once again started to mock the Electoral College as an undemocratic institution, it does play an important role in the US constitutional design.
As Alexander Hamilton pointed out in his Federalist #68, the Electoral College:
… affords a moral certainty that the office of president will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.
Every little detail, from having the electors vote about a month after the election to the requirement that they never meet as a whole (but only in their own state capitals), suggests the electors are being asked to ponder, consider, and make a conscious decision.
The Electoral College has survived 227 years and, arguably, has never truly been needed. Now would be a good time to use it.
Rodrigo Praino receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and UNICEF.
Scientists with the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) have officially approved the names of four new elements, completing the seventh row of the periodic table.
A Monster Prowls a Christmas Tree Lot in the First Clip from YouTube Red Horror Series 12 Deadly Days
We’ve all heard of the 12 days of Christmas—but the axe-wielding creature in this first clip from 12 Deadly Days, YouTube and Blumhouse Television’s horror-comedy series, is a far cry from a partridge in a pear tree.
Have you ever found yourself dreading a leisurely activity you had eagerly scheduled days or weeks in advance?
I first caught myself doing this a few years ago when I was traveling home to Turkey. I had excitedly made plans to meet up with some old friends. But to my surprise, as the date approached, I started to feel reluctant and unenthusiastic about these long-awaited reunions.
“I have to go get lunch with my friend,” I’d grouse to others, making it sound like a chore.
Was I an anomaly? Or do other people feel this way too? We increasingly rely on scheduling to organize our lives: phone calls, appointments, dates – and, yes, fun social activities. But can planning leisure activities also start to feel like work, too? Why might they become a source of dread?
As someone who studies consumer behavior and decision-making, I decided to explore this phenomenon with Gabbie Tonietto, a Ph.D. candidate in marketing. With Tonietto leading the investigation (the results would eventually become a part of her dissertation), we conducted a series of studies to see if filling out our calendars – even with fun activities – can have unexpected side effects.
All work, no play?
Across 13 studies, we found that the simple act of scheduling makes otherwise fun tasks feel more like work. It also decreases how much we enjoy them.
For example, in one, we asked participants to imagine grabbing a coffee with a friend. Half of the participants imagined that they planned this gathering a few days in advance and put it on their calendar, while the other half were told that they decided to grab a coffee on the fly. We found that this simple, relaxing activity was associated more with work-like qualities (“obligation,” “effortful,” “work”) when it was scheduled, compared with when it was impromptu.
In several follow-up studies, we found that simply scheduling something fun – like a movie or social outing – felt like work even if it was something you regularly did, was something new or special or when you had nothing else planned for that day.
In another study, we set up a pop-up café on a university campus during finals that served free coffee and cookies. We flagged down students studying for their finals and gave them one of two tickets. The first asked participants to choose and schedule a time for them to take a study break and enjoy the free treats. The second simply told them that the café would be open during a two-hour window.
After participants showed up and had their coffee and cookie, we gave them a short questionnaire that asked them how much they enjoyed their study break. As expected, we found that those who had scheduled the study break didn’t enjoy it as much.
The constraints of a schedule
So why can making set plans be such a drag?
We think that it has to do with how scheduling structures time. Scheduling, at its core, is about allocating time to activities. There are set beginning and end points. Such strict scheduling, however, is at odds with how people think about leisure and relaxation, which are associated with unconstrained freedom. As the saying goes: Time flies when you’re having fun.
On the flip side, structured time is associated with work activities: Meetings start and end at specific times, deadlines loom and the specter of the clock is omnipresent.
So when your weekend is structured and planned – even if the activities are fun – they start to take on some of the qualities we tend to associate with work.
In another one of the studies, we asked participants to imagine that they’d just decided to spend their afternoon at a forest preserve doing a variety of activities, like canoeing and guided hikes. We told half the participants that they’d simply do two activates with a picnic in between. The other half were told they had signed up for activities at specific times (say, 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.), with time reserved in between for a picnic. Basically all the participants were making a spontaneous trips to the park and all were going to participate in similar activities. The only difference was that some of the participants had strict schedules, while others didn’t.
We found that structuring not only made the activity feel more like work, but also decreased participants’ desire to engage in them. In other words, even an impromptu leisure event starts to feel like work once it’s structured.
A rough solution
But this doesn’t mean that scheduling will take the fun out of everything. After all, you can’t do everything on the fly. For those who do need to make plans days or weeks in advance, something called “rough scheduling” can work wonders.
Because scheduling can make weekend activities feel like work, we reasoned that relaxing the structure might alleviate some of these negative consequences. To test this idea, we asked students to either schedule a get-together at a set time or by referring to a gap in their day (“between classes”). We found that eliminating specific boundaries not only increased excitement, but also worked as well as doing something spur of the moment.
So next time you want to make plans, make them flexible. You’ll feel less constrained – and more likely to have fun, too.
Selin Malkoc does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
In a world of mass communication and social media, people seem prepared to share their opinion on almost any subject.
When it comes to remembering a conversation you were involved in, in most cases the deciding factor is the contribution you made to that conversation, according to British journalist Catherine Blyth in her 2008 advice book The Art of Conversation.
But today when people talk, online and offline, any real dialogue seems to have given way to parallel monologues, paired with an inability to actively listen.
A brief trip into my own discipline of health communication illustrates the dilemma. The core argument of what makes health promotion work is that the promoter must first find the barriers as to why people don’t live healthier. The promoter then converts those into convincing campaigns.
Yet, health promoters still have difficulties explaining why seemingly reasonable people still deliberately disregard or dismiss their messages. In Australia alone, the federal Department of Health says smoking still kills an estimated 15,000 people a year.
So, how do we explain that people wilfully choose to harm their future health by ignoring sound health marketing? Researchers call this phenomenon health resistance. It is basically a lack of motivation to comply with someone else’s ideas of good and bad.
And since every form of communication starts with someone’s own worldview, which has to pass through the filter of a possibly very different worldview of others, these rebellious reactions are not surprising.
In politics and social issues (debates of marriage equality, climate change, race and religion, etc), we witness an increasingly dire split and hardening of positions. But the attempt to focus on perfecting one’s own arguments has equally led to an impasse in advancing public health.
The study of communication has its origins in rhetoric and public speaking skills of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Rhetoric teaches the art of using persuasive tools. However the idea of resolving disagreement through measured agreeable discussion, known as the dialectic method, played an equal role to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
With this in mind, it is interesting to see how our outlooks of communication have changed in modern times. Back in 1922, the American writer and reporter Walter Lippmann still called communication:
[…] a central and constitutive place in the study of social relations.
This opinion was echoed by his contemporary, philosopher John Dewey, who argued that:
[…] communication can by itself create a community.
This early definition was close to the spirit of the dialectic method. It was also in line with the root of the word “communication”, which comes from the Latin communicare (to share or to make common) and communis (belonging to all). Both terms are also related to the word “community”.
The rise of mass media
The rise of electronic communication technologies and mass media after World War II shifted the focus onto a more scientific interest of how best to disseminate information. This was famously symbolised by the communication loop model of Claude Elwood Shannon and Warren Weaver.
A growing interest in the information processing capacity of communication ultimately led to a detachment from the art of debate.
Persuasion and media effects concepts moved centre stage. Those areas were especially useful for purposeful or strategic communication that were needed in political campaigning, marketing and public relations. Those fields, not coincidentally, grew in importance at the same time.
US communication scholar William Eadie noted that by the 1980s communication in the United States had been separated from the study of speech and rhetoric. It was more associated primarily with learning journalism and media production, while the latter became subcategories of English.
The dawn of the information age intensified the focus on creating messages further by providing people with unfiltered, instant access to media and removing communicators from real audiences.
Whereas the idea of the internet as a democratic source of information and active engagement was noble, the web algorithms that filtered what someone was exposed to along their interests created an echo chamber of one’s own held opinions. It effectively reduced communicative competency to engage in human dialogue.
If we look at the current public and political dialogue in many countries, it seems bleak. The fallout from the US presidential campaign and the UK’s Brexit vote are just two examples.
But we know from psychology that humans have a natural drive toward belonging and contribution (being heard) and finding expressions of their creativity (being inspired). This explains social movements, the fan culture in sports and participatory management.
Getting the message through
One way to arrive at practising a slower and more compassionate communication style is to borrow ideas from the Slow Movement. We can step away from instant responses and replace the idea of conversations as a competition, with a win-win mentality.
The field of health communication attempts this in the form of community-involved and -led health campaigns, creating ownership, mutual voice and togetherness in the process.
On an individual level, we need to balance impersonal with personal communication, seek out and engage with opposing opinions on purpose, and try understanding the background for someone’s position by actively listening.
This goes beyond the freedom of speech idea. It forms an attempt to find common ground when talking to each other, which is not coincidentally also a definition of the term “community”.
Besides the obvious effects in building connections, it has direct health implications, working against isolation, antagonism and stress.
Olaf Werder does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
A recent BMJ Case Report outlined the story of a 59-year-old woman who went to A&E after experiencing pain when urinating and abdominal pain. Her symptoms were consistent with urinary tract infection (UTI, commonly referred to by some as cystitis) for which she was prescribed antibiotics and painkillers. During her visit to the hospital, she vomited, became shaky, muddled and had difficulty talking. It transpired that she had consumed several litres of water throughout the day based on medical advice to drink lots of fluids that she recalled from previous experience of UTIs. Unwittingly, the patient brought about a dangerous condition known as acute hyponatremia which can progress to seizures, coma and even death, which is related to drinking too much fluid.
Hyponatremia is a clinical condition in which altered brain function is associated with very low sodium concentrations in blood serum (usually below 135 mmol/L) and brain swelling. The severity depends on the overall sodium level and the rate of decline, but the condition is a medical emergency. People at the highest risk of hyponatremia can include those with kidney, liver and endocrine diseases, although specific causes are often divided into those that occur with high, normal or low fluid volume.
When we consider that water is the medium in which chemistry plays out, it is not surprising that our bodies have evolved tightly controlled processes to regulate fluid balance and plasma concentrations of sodium within a normal range. Total body water and sodium are regulated independently. The extent to which hyponatremia can be brought about via excessive drinking with normal kidney function is not clear. But during infective illness, peeing less combined with consciously drinking more fluids – because that’s the received wisdom – could be dangerous.
Healthcare practitioners often encourage patients to “drink plenty of fluids” when they are unwell. Even the well are encouraged to drink lots of water to stay hydrated and keep healthy. Yet the rationale and evidence for these recommendations are equivocal. Timothy Noakes has spoken about the dangers of over-drinking in endurance athletes for some time, where the recommendation has been to drink as much as tolerable, and to drink before thirst.
Several deaths have been caused by exercise induced hyponatremia and excessive fluid intake, and similar concerns have been raised in sports where athletes undergo rapid weight-loss to “make weight”. In relation to UTIs, drinking plenty of water is thought to help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract via diuresis (the excessive production of urine). Other potential mechanisms include maintenance of optimal urine pH and reducing the available surface area on which bacteria can thrive due to a shrinking effect on the bladder brought about by more frequent urination. However, evidence for these associations are conflicting.
The European Food Safety Agency recommends a daily total fluid intake of 2.5 litres for men and a couple of litres for women. It is worth noting that this includes water from all beverages and moisture content of foods (so not simply plain water) and will vary widely between different countries, depending on climate. A person’s fluid needs also depend on how physically active they are.
Water is clearly essential and we tend to think that more is better. Physiologically, though, this is not always the case and it is quite reasonable to consider that excessive fluid intake could have no effect at all, or could in fact be harmful. Drinking more than the body needs is not necessarily wise and, although rare, given the potential catastrophic results of hyponatremia there is a need for further research to identify risks and benefits of frequent drinking so that we can have more precise drinking guidelines.
Using exercise as an example, and to echo Noakes, it is not clear why drinking guidelines for the most intellectual of mammals should be so different. We have a feedback mechanism that has been shaped by evolution: thirst. Whether it is beneficial to drink beyond thirst when you have an infection remains speculative. As others have pointed out, even a simple pragmatic study design comparing antibiotics and high water intake with antibiotics alone, could provide evidence of an effect over a short time-frame.
Fortunately, in the instance outlined in the BMJ Case Report the patient’s hyponatremia was rapidly identified and successfully treated with simple fluid restriction. But given the scarcity and inconsistency of the available experimental and clinical data on drinking guidelines, attempts to address this dearth of information should be embraced.
Matthew Haines does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE
USF’s approach to improving its first-year retention rates has resulted in national recognition after the rate went from 88.2 to 89.7 percent in the past year.
The university received the Eduventures 2016 Innovation Award from the National Research Center for College & University Admissions (NRCCUA). The NRCCUA provides data for colleges and universities so the institutions can seek out high school students who meet their preferred profiles for admission, according to the organization’s website.
USF received the Innovation Award in the category of “Defining and Reporting Outcomes,” for its work in identifying at-risk first-year students and working to keep them at the university. This identification and targeting of at-risk students is done through USF’s Persistence Committee, which was set up in February and has since been working to improve the first-year retention rates.
“(The award is) recognition that USF is doing some unique work in the area of predictive analytics and persistence because we were recognized for the way in which our Persistence Committee has been using data to identify students who are at-risk of not persisting into the next semester,” Paul Dosal, Vice Provost of Student Success, said.
The committee is composed of 15 to 20 people from various cross-campus offices and support units according to Dosal, and was formed to help coordinate efforts to boost USF retention rates. The retention rate is one of Florida’s performance metrics, which allows the university to get more in state funding.
It is also one of 12 metrics for the university to gain pre-eminent status, a goal the university has been working toward for some time. The university currently meets nine of the 11 required metrics for pre-eminence, a status that comes with more state funding and greater access to resources. The other metric USF needs for qualification is its six-year graduation rate (67 percent), which needs to be at 70 percent to meet the pre-eminence benchmark.
“On that metric, we’ve been on what we have called a performance plateau,” Dosal said. “That is, we raised our performance to about 88-89 percent, falling just short of the 90 percent required for pre-eminence.”
The university uses a platform developed by Civitas that uses predictive analytics, which generates a list of which students are at-risk for not continuing on, according to the analytics. That list is then provided to the committee members, who attempt to help the students.
They figure out who is at-risk, to what degree and for what reason. Then, the appropriate office is notified to reach out to the student. That reaching out may come from an academic advisor, financial aid counselor, resident assistant, or career counselor.
“In essence, we’re developing a case-management approach to support our students,” Dosal said.
The committee has been in operation now for about nine months. The retention rate has increased from 88.2 to 89.97, according to Dosal. That is just 0.03 short of the 90 percent needed for preeminence.
“The good news is that it seems to be working,” Dosal said.
Dosal said he is confident that when the official figure comes in, USF will have reached 90 percent.
Dosal said the challenges that come with trying to keep up a retention rate are plentiful. There are students who face financial troubles, who cannot pay their bills, or may be struggling to do so. Some students are not in the right major for them, who may not have the drive to stay in their chosen major. Some students come in with a shining academic record but are struggling in their first semester. Even more still may be pursuing a major that isn’t the major they need for their career path.
“It’s all about identifying the students in real time and providing them the services they need in a timely way,” Dosal said.
Dosal said what USF has accomplished on its first-year retention rate is a sign of what is to come.
“We are becoming, if we’re not already, a pre-eminent university and it’s this innovative, entrepreneur approach that has allowed us to achieve this much so quickly,” Dosal said. “All of us, students, faculty, staff, should be very proud of what we’ve done here.”
Neo-Nazis around the world have made it clear that they’re optimistic about what a Trump presidency will do for their cause. And while countless people have already pointed out just how dangerous Donald Trump’s rise to power has been, the historical parallels to other authoritarian regimes is still shocking. Take, for…
A sign hanging at the USF vigil in June for victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando. Students gathered in solidarity with the LGBT community after 49 people were killed in the largest mass shooting in American history. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/ JACKIE BENITEZ
Monday, the FBI released its annual report on hate crime statistics showing a disturbing increase in crimes across the country in 2015. Nearly every demographic had seen an increase in attacks, yet anti-Muslim crimes rose by 67 percent, from 154 incidents in 2014 to 257 in 2015.
“This year’s report, which contains data from 14,997 law enforcement agencies, reveals 5,850 criminal incidents and 6,885 related offenses that were motivated by bias against race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity,” according to the FBI.
These crimes are not just composed of an offender who has a bias. For them to make the list, law enforcement investigators had to reveal evidence that bias motivated the actions.
Conflicts have obviously been rising for years and it seems hope of reconciliation is low. During the past election, many on both sides referred to the escalating tensions in the nation, casting blame on their opponent and their followers.
However, hate has permeated our culture for decades and despite our claims of a more inclusive outlook, crimes motivated entirely from bigoted and prejudiced beliefs are increasing by a disturbing amount.
In one year hate crimes toward Muslims living in a country that claims to be proud of its tolerance and diversity has increased by 67 percent.
Of the reported victims, 59.2 percent were targeted for their race, 19.7 percent for their religion and 17.7 percent because of their sexual orientation.
People are being attacked because of their appearance, their religion, their gender, their sexual orientation and a bias against disabilities.
Of reported incidents, 4,482 were classified as crimes against persons. Intimidation accounted for 41.3 percent of those offense, 37.8 percent were simple assault and 19.7 percent were aggravated assault.
So who’s to blame?
Those allowing intolerance to build up a well of hate in their heart and then lash out at someone solely because they are different are obviously a large part of the cause for the violence.
However, the blame in no way rests entirely on them. The report found 31.5 percent of the reported crimes happened in or near their homes. They were attacked in their homes, the one place they should be able to assume they are safe.
It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to assume those who live near them were aware of what was happening, were aware there was a problem. How many of them tried to stop it? How many stepped in and stood up against such hatred? How many of them even cared?
We cannot accept intolerance as a social norm. This country was founded on the back of immigrants who all united in a desire for freedom from an oppressive government. We’ve been fighting ever since to ensure every person living within our borders have the same rights we’ve worked endlessly for. Or at least, we claim to work for that inclusivity.
Of the 5,493 offenders in the report, 48.9 percent were white. Another 24.3 percent were African-American and the race of 16.2 percent was unknown. Minorities are facing a greater risk in this country and it appears as if the blame is on close-minded white citizens.
The sad part is, that statistic isn’t even remotely shocking. Movements like Black Lives Matter have brought to light just how aggressively divided our nation is. While African-Americans protested for our government and our justice system to consider their lives as something worth value, white-Americans responded in an uproar demanding the movement be obliterated because “all lives matter” and even going so far as to make their own parodies of the movement in an effort to squash its validity.
To an extent, they’re right. Black Lives Matter is not a movement that should be sweeping across the nation. It shouldn’t have to be discussed, and if our country treated every citizen equally, it wouldn’t need to be.
But the reality is, minorities are not considered to be equal by a disturbingly large portion of our nation. Thousands of citizens have been harassed and assaulted because they weren’t what some hate-fueled citizens believe the “perfect American” should be.
If this toxic atmosphere continues to grow, our country will unravel. We cannot afford to continue to permit this discrimination. If we see injustice in the world, we need to correct it. Otherwise, we are beckoning in a bleak tomorrow.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.
The results of the 2016 presidential election has led to radicals on both sides to resort to hateful vandalism across the country. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE
This election has led to a divisiveness not previously seen in this nation. Protests are still underway in major cities across the U.S., African-Americans have been threatened online, Muslim women are being assaulted, and vandalism — including a number of swastikas — are being sprayed on bus stops and dorm rooms.
That hate-fueled vandalism has made its way to USF.
“Graffiti was found on the walls with racial undertones that specified various individuals names and that if Hillary Clinton won there would be death,” USF University Police Public Information Officer Renna Reddick told The Oracle. “Similar types of messages were placed under their doors.”
The graffiti was thankfully written in a dry-erase marker, making it easy to remove. However, the issue is not whether the building has lasting damage or not, but rather the fact that individuals filled with so much abhorrent and detestable beliefs are still on the loose and have faced zero repercussions for their hate thus far.
This is an institution of higher learning. Everyone here has different beliefs and different morals. There are Clinton supporters who are against the protests and there are Trump supporters who are not racists. However, those who are radically acting out are stirring up the tension that has been rampant in our nation for years.
“I’m very concerned for the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff at USF,” Viki Peer, a graduate student with Women’s and Gender Studies told The Oracle. “These explicit and public displays of racism and bigotry demonstrate the hostile environment on USF’s campus.”
Best-case scenario: the person responsible for the vandalism thought the incident would be humorous. But racism isn’t a joke.
People are being persecuted in this country because of how they look. You would have to be utterly blind to think institutional racism doesn’t exist. Making threatening statements toward your fellow students is not only inappropriate, it’s just sickening.
USF President Judy Genshaft sent an email to students Thursday reiterating that this campus was built on diversity and to not cave to the chaos created by this election.
“Whether or not you agreed with the outcome, the University of South Florida System remains a special place where respectful expression of one’s beliefs is encouraged,” Genshaft wrote. “Public universities, and particularly USF, play an integral role in moving our nation forward as a united — yet diverse — community.”
Students need to rely on unity and not animosity to get us through the next four years.
Take a moment today and do something kind for a stranger. If you see someone in need take time out of your day to help. Flood this campus with love and the few students who are a physical embodiment of slime will quickly learn to repress their loathing or be isolated for it.
The latest masterpiece to get the action figure treatment in Figma’s Table Museum series is the tortured soul featured in Edvard Munch’s famous The Scream painting from 1893. The figure won’t ever stop screaming, but with its articulated arms and torso you can at least pose it to look slightly less upset.
In fact, Trump is so unpopular among Mormons that some polls suggest that Utah – the only majority-Mormon state – will go for Evan McMullin, a third-party Mormon candidate largely unknown in the rest of the country.
And even if Trump does take Utah, it will be with a fraction of the support a “generic” Republican would have been expected to receive.
The evangelical-Mormon disconnect may seem puzzling, given that both groups are culturally conservative and heavily Republican. Indeed, it may seem all the more puzzling given that Mormons are the most Republican religious group of all.
So why has Trumpism failed to catch fire among Mormons? Based on research I’ve done with John Green and Quin Monson for our book “Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics,” there are three reasons why Mormons oppose Trump: the wall, the ban and the man.
The first explanation for Mormons’ lack of support for Trump is his rhetoric on immigration, including their resistance to his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and their unease with Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.
As we argue in “Seeking the Promised Land,” Mormons are far more sympathetic to immigrants than other politically conservative groups.
This is true for Mormons across the board, but especially among the roughly one-quarter of LDS church members who spend up to 24 months serving as full-time missionaries between the ages of 18 and 22. Young missionaries may go abroad or serve in the United States among an immigrant population. A positive view of immigrants is even more pronounced among the 15 percent of Mormons who learn to speak a language other than English during their missionary service.
This pro-immigration sentiment is reflected in and reinforced by the rhetoric and action of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints, which has consistently been a voice of moderation on immigration policy. To many Mormons, a humane policy toward both documented and undocumented immigrants – including keeping families intact – is a religious imperative.
Not to mention the fact that Latinos are an ever-increasing share of the global Mormon population. Here in the United States, the percentage of Mormons who are Latino is 7 percent and growing.
The second reason why many Mormons oppose Trump lies in his vitriolic language toward Muslims, as exemplified by his call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
As we report in our book “American Grace,” Robert Putnam and I have found that Mormons have a high regard for Muslims, as they do for all other religious groups.
Even more important is Mormons’ sensitivity to the dangers of animus directed toward a fellow religious minority. Mormon leaders underscored this point by releasing a statement in December 2015 that was a thinly veiled swipe at Trump’s anti-Muslim comments. They quoted Mormon founder Joseph Smith as saying that:
“for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample on the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any denomination who may be too unpopular or weak to defend themselves. It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul – civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race.”
In case one thinks that Muslims were somehow not included in this sentiment, in 1841 the city of Nauvoo, Illinois – the headquarters of Mormonism at the time – explicitly mentioned “Mohammedans” (that is, Muslims) in a statute guaranteeing “free toleration and equal privileges.”
Nor is this merely fusty language from the past. The principle of religious tolerance runs deep within Mormonism today, as many Mormons have personally experienced the ugliness of religious bigotry. Robert Putnam and I have found that Mormons are among the groups most likely to report hearing disparaging remarks about their religion, and are among the religious groups that are viewed most negatively by Americans of other faiths. This was underscored by the hostility directed toward Mitt Romney during his first run for the presidency in 2008.
While the wall and the ban matter to Mormons, these two issues do not fully explain why Mormons and evangelicals have diverged in their opinions about Donald Trump. After all, many evangelicals are also sympathetic to immigrants and concerned with religious freedom. Perhaps even more than the wall and the ban is the man – Mormons’ strongly negative reaction to the revelations regarding Trump’s past behavior, especially his sexual misconduct.
A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings has shown that 72 percent of evangelicals believe that an immoral person can nonetheless behave ethically when fulfilling public duties, a stunning increase from only 30 percent five years ago.
That same poll did not break out the results for Mormons, but there is every reason to think that they differ sharply on this point. For Mormons, the importance of personal rectitude is paramount – including, and perhaps even especially, for elected leaders.
Mormon scripture, for example, includes this statement, believed by Mormons to be the literal word of God,
“When the wicked rule, the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.”
This sentiment is regularly reinforced by Mormon leaders in modern times.
While back in the 1800s, Mormons’ now abandoned practice of polygamy gave them the reputation for moral licentiousness, today Mormons hold a strict view on sexual morality – 94 percent of Mormons with a high level of religious commitment morally disapprove of sex between unmarried adults. Thus, one can see why many Mormons would be wary of voting for a presidential candidate who has been heard bragging about his extramarital sexual activity, including his infamous boast of committing sexual assault.
Mormons’ unease with Donald Trump, however, does not mean that they have flocked to Hillary Clinton. They are, after all, a strongly Republican and deeply conservative group, and thus unlikely to vote for a Democrat. Instead, many Mormons have apparently decided to cast what is essentially a protest vote for third-party candidate Evan McMullin – who is both Mormon himself and a conventional conservative. McMullin will not win the presidency, or perhaps even the state of Utah, but in voting for him many Mormons will feel that they have avoided selecting from the lesser of two evils.
David Campbell does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
My colleague Nora Wood, business librarian extraordinaire, and I are excited to be first time attendees to the Charleston Library Conference this year. We’re looking forward to a number of great talks and exhibits, and will be presenting a poster at 6PM on Thursday, November 3rd.
Stop by and say hello! We’ll be talking various strategies for new liaisons and department coordinators alike when it comes to making a seamless transition in supporting academic units on campus. Topics to be discussed include:
- Capturing and utilizing meaningful public service statistics
- Developing the “soft skills”of outreach and networking
- Timely and effective succession planning for all liaison areas
We know that it’s not possible to see everything (it’s Halloween and we wish we had Hermione’s time-turner!); below is some of the content we’ll be providing:
For the full poster content, click here
Have a great conference, and we hope to see you! Make sure to also catch Nora’s Lively Lunch discussion in collaboration with Melanie Griffin, Liaison Librarians in the Know: Methods for Discovering Faculty Research and Teaching Needs.
Passate una buona notte di Samhain, e vogliate un po' bene al buio, che è grazie a lui se la luce ci sembra ancora più bella! ^___=
Tomorrow I leave for the LuccaComicsAndGames and will be 5 days of full immersion in fair and a lot of fatigue, so, I take this opportunity today to wish you for the more night full of magic and meanings of the year!
You have a good night of Samhain, and we want a little affection for the dark, which is thanks to him that the light seems even more beautiful! ^____=