The Librarian is No Longer a Loveless Frump, Data Suggest

March 28th, 2017

Librarians of today may benefit from this re-analysis of old data:

Loveless Frump as Hip and Sexy Party Girl: A Reevaluation of the Old-Maid Stereotype,” Katherine C. Adams, The Library Quarterly, Volume 70, Number 3 | Jul., 2000.

“As computer technology prompts educators and practitioners within Library and Information Science (LIS) to redefine their profession, the old-maid stereotype has yet again become a topic of debate. Previous analyses of the old-maid stereotype have failed to expose how stereotypes work to create meaning at both the point of production and consumption. Without such an understanding, attempts at overcoming the stereotype by willing it away, renaming, or ignoring it will remain futile. Recent poststructural theories, though, allow librarians to understand both the durability and inherent discursive weaknesses in the stereotype and, hence, provide the basis of a more informed strategy for overcoming it. Moreover, the shriveled-prune representation may be part of the fun of being a librarian. This stereotype allows knowledge workers and information managers the opportunity to retain a distinct identity as librarians.”

BONUS: “A Whole New World of Freaks and Geeks: Libraries and Librarians on YouTube

BONUS: “The Use of Psychological Defense Mechanisms – By Librarians and the Public – in Response to Traditional and Binary Librarian Stereotypes

Why Lawyers Are Nice (or Nasty)

March 27th, 2017

Which might be the best strategies for lawyers to maximize success – should they be honest or dishonest (and/or aggressive or passive) ? Researchers Giovanni Sartor, EUI – Florence [pictured] Michel Rudnianski, CNAM/ORT – Paris, Antonino Rotolo, CIRSFID – Bologna, Régis Riveret, University of Aberdeen, and Eunate Mayor, EUI – Florence, offer solutions in their EUI Working Paper LAW2009/08 ‘Why Lawyers Are Nice (or Nasty) : A Game-Theoretical Argumentation Exercise’

Applying Professor Dung’s Abstract Argumentation Framework (see: P. M. Dung. ‘On the acceptability of arguments and its fundamental role in nonmonotonic reasoning, logic programming, and n–person games.’ Artificial Intelligence, 77:321–57, 1995) the team are able to determine that : –

“[…] given certain hypotheses concerning the costs of proceeding, the most successful posture for a lawyer is to be non-honest and non-aggressive, followed by being honest and aggressive, then by being honest and non-aggressive, and finally by being non-honest and aggressive. In other words, given that framework, being non-honest pays only when one is non-aggressive, while aggressiveness only pays when coupled with honesty.”

Also see; The pleasure of being nasty.


Dead flies, psychopathic night owls, and blinking humans — in Stockholm on Monday

March 26th, 2017

Dead flies, psychopathic night owls, and blinking humans — these things and more will be part of the Ig Nobel shows in Sweden.

WHEN: Monday, 27 March, 2017,
WHERE: Stockholm, Sweden:

There will be three (3) events— all on the same day:

Each event will feature:

  • Marc Abrahams — Father of the annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony and editor of Annals of Improbable Research
  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Fredrik Sjöberg (three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead)
  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Minna Lyons (evidence that “night owls” are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning)
  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Piers Barnes (how many group photos are needed to ensure at least one in which nobody blinks).

Here’s a preview, in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter: “Maybe I have become somewhat more rigid in cork

This event is part of the Ig Nobel Spring Eurotour, which has already visited England, Switzerland, and Norway, and will arrive eventually in Austria, Italy, The Netherlands, and Scotland.

“Ecco il fico” — Barbarossa, the fig, the bite, the thumb, and the mule

March 26th, 2017

The phrase “Ecco il fico” has a particularly ripe meaning, writes Rob Chirico in the Strong Language blog:



The year was 1162 when he returned and easily subdued the revolt. According to the chronicler Giambattista Gelli, Frederick [Frederick the First, Holy Roman emperor, also known as “Barbarossa”] got them back for the mule debacle, and then some: “The Emperor, justly incensed, urged the besieged [citizens] to yield, which they at last did… he received them with mercy upon this condition: that every person who desired to live should, with their teeth, take a fig out of the genitals of a [she] mule.” That is to say, Barbarossa gave the ringleaders a choice of being hanged (or beheaded), or saving themselves by presenting a fig to the executioner as a token of ransom. The fly in the ointment, so to speak, was that the fig had been stuck in the ass of the Empress’s ass—er, mule. The prisoner had to extract it with his teeth. He would then bring it to the executioner saying, “Ecco il fico” (translated as “Here is the fig”—but you knew that). If that was not punishment enough, he then had to replace the fig in the mule’s fundament to be ready for extraction by the next miscreant.

Chirico explains this as background for understanding a particular hand gesture:

for decades the incident was used to humiliate and insult the Milanese. You’ve seen it. The precise form is to make a fist with your thumb thrust out between the index and middle fingers and bite the thumb. The exact name of the gesture is known as “making the fig.” It was already a widespread insult in Shakespeare’s time, as he used it in Act I, Scene I of Romeo and Juliet.

The thumb-biting hand gesture has variants, used in various parts of the world.

The Romeo and Juliet incident, which may or may not be quite as described here, is accompanied by this statement: “No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.” It can play out in different ways, at the option of the director of the play. This video shows some of the ways:

How to cobble a cable in the jungle [historic video]

March 25th, 2017

How do you make an electrical cable when you’re way the hell away from anywhere and don’t have most of the standard equipment? Here’s one way, shown in an American video from World War 2, about cobbling a cable in the jungle, narrated by a narrator who has the voice and manner of a professionally official savvy regular guy: