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Librarian Blog

The poll that counts

Public opinion polls may or may not be less accurate today than ever before.
So, it's more than likely that when someone cites this or that poll result to justify a political stand he or she is relying on information that's not especially useful in the real sense, as opposed to the political sense.
The only poll that counts is the one that happens in November, in the case of national elections.
And one would hope that in that polling venue a lot of people would show their interest in the health of the nation by going to the polls and having their voices heard.
Well, not so much.
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that about 62 percent of those eligible to vote did actually vote in the 2016 presidential election. That's about the same percentage as voted in 2012. Significantly, however, the percentage of blacks who voted dropped pretty dramatically in 2016 from 2012 numbers. I don't know why.
Nor do I know why Hispanics continue to vote in such low numbers. About 50 percent of those who could vote do so every time a federal election comes around. I'm surprised that the 2016 presidential ballot didn't have enough of a difference in policy terms to incite higher numbers from this segment.
It's not just tsk-tsk-too-bad that people don't vote. It's also a good way to lose a constitutional democracy. They realize that in Australia where turnout is in the 95-percent range. It's that high because the law requires Australians to vote. They don't get a free pass on whether their grand experiment in self-government can be sustained.

Adios to photo mag

I learned just today that Popular Photography magazine is no longer.
It ceased publicatoin after its March/April edition went into the mail and on the shelves.
I guess I'm surprised it lasted all of 80-something years. Recent developments in mass photography have not been good to or for what I'd call for lack of a better word "quality" photography. When you can easily take thousands of images in a few moments with a phone, and they are not really bad, you don't need advice from anyone. Just post them and move on. And if you want one that's really good, surely one of the thousands will be beyond just OK.
I learned to be a professional photographer on a large-format camera that basically shot black-and-white TriX film for a semi-weekly newspaper. I never shot color for a newspaper in my career, but I did supervise a lot of color photographers and I supervised the move from film to digital back when digital news cameras cost $25,000 and could only be purchased from the Associated Press if you wanted that kind of price.
I don't lament the good old days, though. What's gone is gone and it'll never come back, just like Popular Photography is gone.
The new way of shooting may not be as good as the old, but it's certainly cheaper and more accessible. Maybe that's a good thing; maybe not.
It's sure made it a whole lot harder to find places to hide.

Periodically interested

We have a rack just outside the backdoor of the library where we leave old magazines that have either been dropped off for us to recycle or have aged out from our periodical shelves inside.
Within days after putting magazines out there, they are gone. Today, we put out a year's worth of Motor Trend magazines, and I daresay they will have been picked up by the end of tomorrow if not sooner.
I noticed a little while ago that someone has dropped off some Air Force magazines from the year 2000. They may stay out there longer.
We just never have to throw magazines away; they all disappear.
Inside the library it is very hard to keep track of which magazines are most popular and which ones don't get looked at at all.
Do you have a favorite or two you'd hate to see us cancel? Let me know because several are up for subscription renewals and we want to keep only what people will read and use.

Math the easy way

You can imagine how excited I was several years ago when I heard that an Israeli team had found that you could learn math while unconscious.
Trying to learn math while utterly awake and on point had certainly never worked for me.
How much I would have loved to just smoke a joint, say, or take a sleeping pill and have math mysteriously yet effectively organize itself in my brain. Then, I would have been just nearly perfect!
The announcement awhile ago was a little late for me to try to learn math unconsciously, but I thought it might be a breakthrough for others like me who were math-averse or math-a-phobic or disabled mathwise.
Alas, it was not to be.
Retraction Watch bloggers posted yesterday that the Israeli study has been debunked numerous times over the years. Nobody could replicate the study and get the same results.
Which means that it all adds up to a number with which I'm very familiar: Zero.

They were prescient

Turns out that a lot of people in the scientific and technological fields were way ahead of the rest of us last year when they started archiving databases and websites that contained key information about cutting edge knowledge in various fields.
Out of Canada, for one place, they began the task of saving what we know from the people who don't want us to know it.
To quote from their own website:
"The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) is an international network of academics and non-profits addressing potential threats to federal environmental and energy policy, and to the scientific research infrastructure built to investigate, inform, and enforce. Dismantling this infrastructure — which ranges from databases to satellites to models for climate, air, and water — could imperil the public’s right to know, the United States’ standing as a scientific leader, corporate accountability, and environmental protection."
New partners are signing on especially after the EPA began deleting information about climate change from its website under the new EPA secretary, a former lawmaker from Oklahoma with ties to the oil industry.
If the Luddites are going to be in charge of things, those of us who value knowledge must do something besides stand by.
Thank goodness there were people moving ahead of the game on this problem.
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