Monday, November 24, 2008

Website Parodies

Sometime along the way, I gathered this set of parody websites. They were probably originally meant to illustrate the need to evaluate public web pages. Some of them are very carefully done--by someone who had a lot of extra time. Some of them are just silly. I thought maybe they would provide a little humor-break from research-paper writing. And always remember there is The Onion.
http://www.southalabama.edu/univlib/sauer/parodies.html

Friday, November 21, 2008

Civic Literacy Quiz

According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education citing a newly released report on civic literacy:
. . . earning a college degree does not necessarily guarantee an increase in knowledge of American history, government, or economics.

The report, "Our Fading Heritage: Americans Fail a Basic Test on Their History and Institutions," is based on a survey that quizzed more than 2,500 randomly selected Americans, including college graduates and elected officials, to test their "civic literacy." Of those who took the 33-question multiple-choice test, nearly 1,800, or roughly 71 percent, failed.

According to the report, college graduates whose highest educational-attainment level was a bachelor's degree answered 57 percent of the questions correctly. That was 13 percentage points higher than the score for Americans whose formal education ended with a high-school diploma.

Only one age bracket of college graduates, baby boomers, did not fail the test over all but came close with an average score of 61 percent. A score below 60 percent was considered failure.


I didn't fail, but am embarrassed that I actually missed 3 questions. But I'm one of those baby boomers that actually studied "civics" as a class in grade school and high school.

See how you do. Take the 33 question multiple choice test.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Life on Google

For years, when doing a library tour, I've stopped at our shelves of Life magazines. Our bound volumes on the third floor outside of the classroom start in 1936 and go through about 1983. Students are amazed at the history these represent--the articles, the advertisements and the photos. Google has gotten the Life photo collection from 1750s and made it available on their Images search. All those famous shots of presidents' inaugurations, presidents'funerals, war, wars' ends, fashion icons and the poor unfashionables.

To browse the collection go to Google, choose "Images" search and use these words: source:life.

To search it just add another word, for example: source:life vietnam.

http://images.google.com/

Friday, November 14, 2008

Full Frontal Scrutiny

Americans for American Energy
Center for Consumer Freedom
American Clean Skies Foundation
Coalition for a Democratic Workplace
Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy
Consumers Rights League

"Alliance," "foundation," "league," "coalition," Wow, such great names. They sound like activist, grassroots organizations working for the betterment of our world and our lives. Sorry to say these are all backed by those for whom transparency is the foe. Hmmm, what might that be? Here is a watchdog website that follows the money to unearth the agenda of these groups.

http://www.frontgroups.org/

"This joint project between Consumer Reports Web Watch and the Center for Media and Democracy aims to examine advocacy groups with misleadingly green-sounding names that are actually funded by corporate interests." Thanks to: Neat New Stuff I Found This Week http://marylaine.com/neatnew.html

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hoaxed Again!

Have you heard the news that Sarah Palin didn't know that Africa was a continent and not a country? And did you believe it? All the news stations and blogs reported it, so it must be true, right?

Read this: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/13/arts/13hoax.php

Even me, a librarian skeptical of all news sources, fell for it. After all everyone was saying it. Just hope that no one decides to do this to you on the web, on facebook, twitter, wherever. It is viral and can be deadly.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

National Survey of Student Engagement 2008

Though this report should be of interest to university administrators, students should take note of the summary below. Whatever college and university you attend, there will be differences in the quality of the education. It is up to you to find the best courses and the best teachers--not just the easiest and those that fit your schedule.

Promoting Engagement for All Students: The Imperative to Look Within
Source: National Survey of Student Engagement
(NSSE)
From press release (PDF; 226 KB)

Findings from a national survey released today show that the quality of undergraduate education varies far more within colleges and universities than between them. As a result, rankings can be highly misleading predictors of educational quality. Analyses of key “Benchmarks of Effective Educational Practice” reveal that in almost every case, more than 90 percent of the variation in undergraduate education quality occurs within institutions, not between them. A related conclusion is that even institutions with high benchmark scores have an appreciable share of students whose undergraduate experience is average at best.

The 2008 report from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is based on information from nearly 380,000 randomly selected first-year and senior students at 722 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. The report, Promoting Engagement for All Students: The Imperative to Look Within, provides an overview of survey findings and points to accomplishments as well as areas where improvement is needed.

Friday, November 07, 2008

10 Most Annoying Phrases

Oxford Researchers List Top 10 Most Annoying Phrases
By John Scott Lewinski
Wired.com, 7 Nov 2008

The great hierarchy of verbal fatigue includes:

1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

The list appears in a new book, Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare, by Jeremy Butterfield.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition

The 11th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, coincidentally published in 1911, is known (by librarians and historians mostly) for the depth of its articles and the scholarly authority of the authors of these articles. I just ran across an online version of this 44 million word reference source and after a little more research have found more than one website hosting it. Needless to say, it is of no value for most 20th century topics, but for students and academics in most fields it is a historiography of great value.

Wikipedia offers these characterizations by noted authorities. I can't think of better advertisements for trying it than these
In 1917, under his pseudonym of S. S. Van Dine, the US art critic and author Willard Huntington Wright published Misinforming a Nation, a 200+ page criticism of inaccuracies and biases found in the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition. Wright claimed that Britannica was "characterized by misstatement, inexcusable omissions, rabid and patriotic prejudices, personal animosities, blatant errors of fact, scholastic ignorance, gross neglect of non-British culture, an astounding egotism, and an undisguised contempt for American progress.

"Sir Kenneth Clark, in Another Part of the Wood (1974), wrote of the eleventh edition, "One leaps from one subject to another, fascinated as much by the play of mind and the idiosyncrasies of their authors as by the facts and dates. It must be the last encyclopaedia in the tradition of Diderot which assumes that information can be made memorable only when it is slightly coloured by prejudice. When T. S. Eliot wrote 'Soul curled up on the window seat reading the Encyclopædia Britannica,' he was certainly thinking of the eleventh edition." (Clark refers to Eliot's 1929 poem Animula.)"


Check it out at:
http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/
http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/