Friday, May 29, 2009

N*O*W for June 1

N▫O▫W▫ Neologism of the Week
for June 1

xiprefix indicating a noun is metaphorical, as in "throwing the xi-baby out with the xi-bathwater"

from William Gillespie, Internalational Dictionary of Neologisms

Book of the Week for June 1

B▫O▫W▫ book of the week
for June 1, 2009

Lark and Termite Jayne Ann Phillips. Knopf. 2009
PS3566.H479 L37 2009

Veteran wordsmith Phillips weaves together two stories, one in West Virginia in 1959 and one in wartime North Korea, the same days, nine years earlier. In the former, a meek and perceptive teen, Lark, tends to her brother, Termite, who lacks speech, who can't walk and is pulled everywhere in a wagon. Corporal Robert Leavitt, whose connection to Lark and Termite emerges during the narrative, is wounded and dying during the Korean War.

It is a story of ontology and of origins, of characters acutely aware of the present, the right-now present, while many elements of their past, they cannot access.

Phillips's prose is urgent, her characters intricately drawn and sympathetic.

The book earned a starred review from Publisher's Weekly; in a back-cover blurb, Alice Munro says, "This novel is cut like a diamond, with such sharp authenticity and bursts of light."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Periodicals/Single Record Project

Randy Lowe and Virginia Williams (seated in the photo to the left) are leading a project that will involve an inventory of the library's periodical collection in all formats. They called a meeting of library supervisors and periodical staff that included Pam Williams, Charlene Vassallo, Lea Messman-Mandicott, Florence Young, Liz Keller, and "Dodie" Coburn on May 13 to outline their strategy for the project and to plan for training sessions that will begin in June.

When "The Periodicals/Single Record Project" is finished, library users will be able to find all periodical formats (print, microform and/or electronic) merged onto a single bibliographic catalog record, and the library will have an accurate count of the library's periodical holdings in all formats.

Friday, May 22, 2009

B/O/W for May 25

B▫O▫W▫ book of the week
for May 25, 2009

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology Ray Kurzweil. Viking. 2005

The singularity is a state in which humans have ceased to be biological beings: Kurzweil writes, "there will be no distinction, post-Singularity, between human and machine or between physical and virtual reality."

He predicts it will happen by approximately 2030.

The post-Singularity world Kurzweil describes is one in which Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics (GNR) will allow humans to transcend our biological limitations, controlling the length of our lives and everything else about our bodies and our environment.

"Protein-based mechanisms are lacking in strength and speed," notes Kurzweil. "We will be able to reengineer all of the organs and systems in our biological bodies and brains to be vastly more capable."

Further details of the Singularity:

"The rate of technological change will not be limited to human mental speeds. Machine intelligence will improve its own abilities in a feedback cycle that unaided human intelligence will not be able to follow."
"Nanobots will interact with biological neurons to vastly extend human experience by creating virtual reality from within the nervous system."
"Billions of nanobots in the capillaries of the brain will also vastly extend human intelligence."
And somewhere in there, spell-checkers will begin recognizing the word "nanobots."
This is one of the most important books of this decade, to be read by all. One may wish to also read Joel Garreau's Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies, and What It Means to Be Human.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NOW for the week of May 18

This week's NOW (neologism of the week):

cosmetic neurology
n. the use of pharmaceuticals to enhance cognitive function in a healthy brain

This week's new word brought to you by Paul McFedries'

Monday, May 18, 2009

GOV DOCS news flash for May 18

Budget of the United States Government 2010 Now Available

Entitled A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise, this year's federal budget is
via, the government printing office's portal of free information. Download various sections separately or download the entire document.

Friday, May 15, 2009

BOW for May 18

BOW Book of the Week
For the week of 5/18/09

The Age of American Unreason
Susan Jacoby. 2008. Pantheon Books
3rd floor new books display E169.Z83 J33 2008

The author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism develops a history of the decline of American thought from its promise in Darwin's mid-nineteenth century to a present in which one of four high-school biology teachers believe humans and dinosaurs once shared the Earth. It's a coherent and rather illuminating look at the role of social Darwinism in adulterating evolutionary theory's search for truth and thus opening the door for junk science and a general cheapening and co-opting of intellectual thought. Jacoby also points to 20th century red scare as a cause of an enduring mistrust of intellectuals, and traces this through to today's celebration of vapid celebrities.

The book excels as a history more than as an extended argument; coupled with a reader's skepticism and will to challenge and balance some of its claims, it provides useful material for further thought. One may read it comparatively along with Richard Hofstadter's Anti-Intellectualism and American Life (1963) and its contemporary, 2008's Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium by Dick Meyer.

--Jeff Maehre

Friday, May 8, 2009

Library Staff Sharpens Public Service Skills

Did you know that as many as 1500 people a day visit the Ort Library? With so many FSU students, staff, and faculty requiring library services, it is important for staff at the circulation and reference desks to communicate with tact and skill, especially during stressful times, like the final weeks of the school year!

To serve the FSU user community even better, many library staff members attended an all-day workshop called Dealing with Difficult People on May 5 to sharpen their public service skills. Topics treated included conflict management, positive interaction with different personality types, and effective use of body language.

John C. Polheber facilitated this workshop, part of the Fred Pryor Seminars & CareerTrack Series. Avalon Ledong from FSU Human Resources, and Corporal Mike Ruppenkamp from the University Police also participated in the workshop. Everyone received a certificate of attendance!

National Library Week Contest Winner Announced

Congratulations to April McDavid, the winner of the National Library Week marble contest at the Circulation desk. April’s winning guess was 206 marbles. There were 207 in the jar. Thanks to everyone who participated!