Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Next up: Bargh's "Before You Know It"

Continuing on with my examination of 40 recent book purchases, I moved to "Before You Know It" by John Bargh, psychology professor at Yale.  I liked the title right off.  Susan Peirce Thompson had mentioned consuming food before you notice what you are doing, before you realize that you didn't intend to eat.  A few days later, I found myself doing just that.  As I swallowed something I didn't need and had just told myself not to eat, I found I was eating.  I was already eating before I knew I was.

I don't see how anybody can be uninterested in what their subconscious mind is up to.  I have some other blog posts about the parts of us that operate below the radar of the conscious mind:

I had read a good deal of Bargh's book before beginning the 40 book lookover and since I had about 60% done, I went to it to finish up.  I am glad I did.  

I hadn't found much about communicating directly with my unconscious.  My favorite personal demo of its existence has been tossing scrap paper into the trash can in the room after having moved the can to a new position.  When I turn and nearly throw to a place where it no longer is, I ask myself why I did that.  Just as I can listen to a piece of classical music and anticipate what the next section will sound like, something in my memory calls up the location of the trash can without having noted that it has been moved.  

Bargh ends his book with helpful ideas for harnessing one's unconscious and sending it in the directions one wants.  He and others in the US and Germany advise making a specific statement to one's self, in writing and in speech, that when x happens, I will y.  They call such a statement an "intention implementation" but you may be able to create a better name.  They have evidence from more than 20 years of work that selecting an event x, such as brushing my teeth or setting the table can set up an action y to be taken when that event happens.  Scheduling the action to be taken when the event occurs tells the unconscious to plan on it, to do it then, not to forget, and not to resist or argue.  

I am glad I have "Before You Know It" and it is going to be useful to have read it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Forty

I have too many books on my Kindle.  I keep ads that a book that may interest me is on sale for the next 25 seconds only at a fabulous price.  Just click to here to buy it instantly.  How can I justify not checking the library online catalog and borrowing it for free?  I can't.  I try to justify buying.  I am getting old and anything that save minutes packs more into my life.  The price right now is so low, I won't notice any loss.  But my wife, "the woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she (Genesis 3:12)" keeps pouring on the logic.  "What good is a book if you never get around to reading it?", she says. 

I invented a lovely counter technique.  I call my invention "stalling".  In this instance, an application of the technique results in my pointing to my excellent ability to grasp undefined (small) portions of the book by memorizing and quoting the title.  In addition, I read a bit of the foreword or preface or the opening paragraph until I find a nugget.  I quote the nugget and do a little lovable mansplaining, leaving the impression that I have benefited from reading the book or some of it, at least. 

But my conscience is catching up with me.  2400 books is too many.  I see that Amazon has millions more.  I need to face facts. 

The Kindle allows "collections".  That actually translates into the same thing as Gmail's "labels", which equals "folders".  
All the items with the same label are part of the same collection or in the same folder.  ​
So, I decided to create a new collection.  I looked through the content titles listed in order of recency.  I use my gut reaction often for many things and as I looked through the most recent titles, I added a book to the new collection if I could feel a genuine tug to read that one.  When I got back far enough that the books didn't seem new, I stopped.  Turns out I had labeled 40 books "Maybe". 

My plan is to not purchase more books until I examine each book in the 40.  I realize that at my age, I could be blind or dead before getting through them..  Still, my taste is well aligned with my head and as I work my way through the forty, I find really excellent writing.  So far, I have been wowed by "Advice Not Given" by Mark Epstein, psychiatrist and applier of Buddhist concepts to modern American life.  Today, I looked at Prof. Drew Hart's "Trouble I've Seen".  He emphasizes ideas, appearances and practices that keep branches of Christians separated, especially dealing with race. 

I have 38 more to go, unless I change my goal and start reading one of these lovely books with their terrific writing and ideas.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Young cow amid Polish bison

You can see on various YouTubes and other sites that sometimes animals form unexpected friendships with animals of other species.

Lynn told me about a cat and an owl.  There are plenty of cases where a cat and a dog or a cat and a mouse get along.  I read about a young cow who has run off with those marvelous bison.  In Poland, where I didn't know there were any bison.  This looks genuine to me:

I notice that the article says the cow is still too immature to mate.  That puts me in mind of the somewhat salacious stories of young tattooed girls who fear they will miss out on exciting adventures and are inclined to hang around motorcycle gangs and any other tolerant macho guys they can find.

You can be sure that this cow will have some memorable stories to tell her offspring and their offspring in a few years.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Mark Epstein

Dr. Epstein's book titles say good things to me: Thoughts without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart, Open to Desire and his newest: Advice Not Given.

It is very interesting how an adult can go from having no idea of practicing meditation to do so.  A guy could label himself lazy, or fearful, or ignorant or create some more complicated explanation for not learning how, or not doing it.  So, when I hear about anyone who makes the change, such as Dan Harris, the newscaster, I am interested in the story of how and why he was moved to learn and meditate.  His book "10% Happier" is a basic overview of that change.  When I read the book, I found that Harris spent some time talking to Epstein.  Then, I knew that Harris was on the right track and would learn some useful information.  

When I think of Epstein's books and what I remember from them, I also think of Dr. Harvey B. Aronson and his book "Buddhist Practice on Western Ground".  That book, its title, as well as Epstein's books, warn me that I am not Chinese, or Japanese, or Korean.  I am confident that there are many differences between the way I grew up and what I believe compared to what would be in my head and history had I grown up in the Eastern cultures.  So, as an adult interested in learning who Buddha was and what he taught, his teachings would probably need a little modification or translation or both to help me.  I have found that Americans who know this country and its culture have been a bigger help to me that natives of cultures with stronger Buddhist traditions and histories.

Reading "Open to Desire" by Epstein, I read about a group of young adult men sitting together in New York City who were getting hungry and were ready to go somewhere to eat.  But they had learned that Buddhists don't yearn, they don't strive, they don't crave.  It seemed to them all that expressing a preference for one restaurant or another was engaging desires, wants, in just the way that Buddha had advised against.  So, they all sat in hunger.

I am confident that they didn't allow themselves to starve and eventually found a way to get to food and eat.  

The picture of that group has stuck with me.  It means to me that any idea or habit or conviction may be better if modified a bit.  The best, most graceful approach to something may require a little loosening.  It is very true that a good idea can be ruined by too much loosening.  It's hard to know what to loosen and how much but careful watching what is happening and some thought may do what is needed.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Just follow your breath

A friend said that it drove him crazy to be told to "follow your breath" when meditating.  You know, I tried following my breath but it keeps losing me in the crowd.  

There is a tradition in some places to distinguish between meditation and concentration.  If you have a religiously important picture or object or quotation, you might try to increase the depth of your activity by spending some minutes looking at and thinking about that item, considering and reconsidering its meaning and significance to you and to your life now.  But if you are trying to train yourself for increased mindfulness, you want to pay attention to some more or less neutral thing.  The idea is to try and be alert to times when your attention shifts off that anchor.  Typical anchors are a point somewhere in the area you can see in front of you, or your breath.  With such basic meditation, you are trying to be aware when you begin looking or thinking about something, anything besides your agreed-upon anchor.  

Typically, it is quite possible to begin thinking about your mother-in-law or your taxes or the irritating little cut that will just never heal.  As soon as you realize that your anchor - the point in your field of vision, or your breath is not the thing you are currently concentrating on, gently, without anger or upset, just realize you have slipped off the anchor and return to it.  Personally, I find that a visual anchor works better for me but one thing about concentrating on my breath is that I can close my eyes for rest and not get off my anchor.  However, I am quite capable of steadily looking at a point while thinking of my mother-in-law.

Finding that one's mind won't stay on the anchor and concluding that one is not suited to practice mindfulness meditation is the most common reason people abandon this valuable practice.  It only takes 10 minutes a day and it doesn't cost anything but many people think they are somehow incapable or unsuited for the practice.  All minds drift and wander.  They are built for that as our eyes are built to blink.  The golden moment, the instant of greatest value is that instant when you realize you are thinking and not attending to the anchor.  

I find it charming, amazing and basically comfortable and comforting to let my breath occur on its own and feel my body's ability to quietly draw in a breath when it needs to.  However, I can be lulled to sleep attending to my breath but much less often when using a visual anchor.  Ten minutes can seem very long and agonizing so you may want to try just 5 minutes.  A real timer that will alert you when the time is up is a big help.  But even two minutes can seem very long when you try to pay attention to one point for that long.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Conceptions of computing

Computers were first advanced rapid calculators.  Then they were word processors when somebody got the brilliant idea of typing and revising on a monitor (tv-ish) screen and then printing out the final version:

Who made the first word processor?

The term was first used in IBM's marketing of the MT/ST as a "word processing" machine. It was a translation of the German word textverabeitung, coined in the late 1950s by Ulrich Steinhilper, an IBM engineer. He used it as a more precise term for what was done by the act of typing.

All the while, machines were hellish to direct.  Trying to use human language, which is surprisingly indistinct and vague, to tell a very black-and-white machine to do something was, and still is, not easy.  Various attempts were and are made to arrange for a human to type "print" and allow parts of the machine to convert the command into several steps needed to get the right letters to the right parts of a printer, feed in a sheet of paper (Just one, please, only one) and print while moving the sheet so that everything is not printed on top of itself.

Many types, versions and approaches were created. In my own experience, in 1968, I part-timed as academic computing director of a campus that was just slowly beginning to arrange to have computing facilities available to researchers, almost always those with lots of numbers that needed "crunching" (processing, averaged, graphing, etc.)

Then along came the lovely spreadsheet,  The queen of spreadsheets is Microsoft's Excel.  My first use of Apple's software called "AppleWorks" was a delight.  I had learned a little word processing, very handy for a professor's class handouts, especially a poor slow typist who tended and tends to make an error in each word, from an Atari.  Appleworks was a predecessor of Microsoft's Office Suite (Word, Excel and Powerpoint, back then).  When I realized that a spreadsheet could alphabetize and put numerical data in order by size and do so in a flash without errors, I wanted my own computer.  

We got our first computer, an Apple IIe, in 1984.  One of my most used programs then was Think Tank, that could outline quickly and spell everything correctly.

Notice, up to now, no mention of internet, the web, communication, social media like Facebook.  No Google.  At first, no searching of any kind.  Then, Lycos was my favorite.  But Google outdid all others - at searching.  We used "Fetch" and other programs until 1991 when Tim Berners Lee, bless his heart, pushed scientists and others into using the World Wide Web, a collection of more and more computers wired to send messages to each other.  It has taken a long time for people to realize that one way or another, they can now post a blog that much of the world can read (and translate into their favorite language). 

True, your computer or smartphone must be connected to this vast internet but with ATT or Verizon or Solarus or Charter or Spectrum, that can be arranged.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Roslings and reality

Hans Rosling was a professor at Sweden's Karolinska Institute.  I have written about him before.  He, like Ben Wattenburg and some other statistically minded people have been interested in getting a picture of what is going on that is accurate.  You don't have to go back too far in time to get to a place where the king didn't really know how many people were in his kingdom, how many people were sick and other numbers that a government generally needs.

Prof. Rosling died about a year ago but he and his son and his daughter have some TED talks and some YouTube videos that are worth seeing.  Rosling shows that many people aged 40 or
 have ideas about what is going on in the world that are out of date.  Talks by him and his grown children aim at showing what the true situation is for the whole planet.  

Here is a Google link to various Hans Rosling resources:

Here is a link to the most recent TED talk by Anna Rosling Ronnlund:

Her talk is about how all the humans live.  Take a look.  You can see that we are becoming unified.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Talking to senior citizens

I am giving a talk about five books. The slides and the notes related to them are on this web page:

The five books are
  1. Incognito by Eagleman - our unconscious minds
  2. Altered Traits by Goleman and Davidson - results of meditation
  3. The Jew in the Lotus by Kamenetz - Jews try to advise Tibetans
    on survival
  4. Designed to Move by Vernikos - keep moving for health
  5. Conscious Breathing by Hendricks - breath as mind and emotion tool

Why these books?  They all seemed surprisingly important and helpful.  I don't want to talk about them if they aren't.  

I have a set of notes from each book and a set of slides I intend to use as a guide through my talk.  Each time I go through those materials, I see a little change here and a slight modification there.  That is unsettling.  I want to be all prepared.  I don't want to get any new ideas or different perspectives on any of the material.  This is not the time to be open-minded. 

I won't be scripted and I can go off in many directions.  The group I will be talking to usually asks lots of questions and they may show heavy interest in some of the material and very little in other parts.  Part of a good presentation for this group is to be willing to spend time on valuable questions or comments.  The more I know, the more likely I can be a good resource.  Some of my feelings are anticipatory jitters and hopes that I don't make a blithering fool of myself.  I have given talks to members of this organization several times before and it has always gone well.

Of course, I will be glad when it is over and I can stop telling myself to be well prepared, to be all set, to know what I am going to do and so on.  

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The joy of fasting

It is a rather busy day.  We had some warm weather, which caused a thaw.  Everything gets wet.  Now it is getting cold and everything will be ice covered and slippery.  Our schools in the area are closed. 

My hearing aids were not performing well.  That means they have to be looked at by repair people and until I get them back, I have trouble knowing what Lynn says.  Strike two!

It is a gloomy day and a fairly dangerous one since it is easy to slip and fall while walking out to get the mail or skid and slide while driving.

Both of us have been gaining weight and we try to watch what is happening.  Wouldn't this be a good time to fast?  Sure, on top of gloom and tough weather, add not eating.  Well, mostly not.  It is 3 PM and so far I have had a hard boiled egg, three grapes and two cups of coffee.  I did have a handful of pumpkin seeds because I wanted to take my daily pills and sometimes they don't go down well on an empty stomach.  

The odd thing is that staying resistant to eating, staying out of the kitchen and its temptations and anticipating the pure delight of eating at dinner puts a genuine glow on the day.  You wouldn't think it was a glowing type of day and yet having no need to plan breakfast or lunch adds time.  I think it might also actually make cheerfulness easier and more available.  As issues and needs come up, they seem to fall into a category of something good to do rather than a duty or imposition.  I wouldn't have thought it likely or possible but it is. Maybe it is an example of the idea of hitting my head against the wall because it feels so good when I stop.  But it actually feels light, healthy and uplifting.  Cool!

It is not just weight loss.  It is also good for the brain:

I wasn't planning on fasting today but Lynn asked if I wanted to.  We are not locked together and have fasted when our partner wasn't doing so.  At first, the sight and smell of cooking and food prep can be a little tough but surprisingly, it can also stiffen resistance.  Just because the scent of an orange or a nice piece of toast comes wafting along, don't think I am going to change my mind.  Besides, the further I get into the day, the more I have invested in fasting for now.  I can see how religious leaders have been inspired to call for a fast, knowing that deliberately not eating can be elevating and unifying.

You can almost hear the word 'discipline' being used, but it seems to me that a more helpful concept is that of adventure.  I have done a day long fast before, but I have never tried anything longer.  My adventures have all ended with a meal at the end of a single day.  It is not climbing Mt. Everest, but paying attention and putting down intermittent and sporadic pictures of food is at least a mini-adventure, good for a snowy day.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Focusing on individuals

My degree is in methods of educational research but almost all of my studies were statistical methods.  This is more and more the era of 'big data' and for various reasons, it is expected that large data sets will assist many types of work in being faster, more accurate, and generally smarter.  However, many teachers know that education is quite different for different individuals.  I try to stay aware of any advances in ways of understanding individuals as opposed to members of an identified group or population.

Clinicians in psychology and psychiatry try to understand and assist individual people with problems in their lives.  I am a fan of Dr. Mark Epstein and have read several of his books.  He is one of a group of psychiatrists who make explicit use of Buddhist concepts and methods, adjusted and modified for today's Americans.  I perked right up when I saw that Dan Harris found and conversed with Epstein as Harris was entering into meditation practices, at first to try having less stress and anxiety from job pressure.  Harris' books "10% Happier" and "Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics", written with Jeffrey Warren, have been well and enthusiastically received.  They are good examples of straightforward writing about practices to better understand and live with oneself.

I have read several of Epstein's books and have been impressed by his sharp eye and ability to face current American life, making adjustments in language and ideas from Freud and Buddha and their previous ages and cultures. 

I have similar ideas about Dr. Mary Pipher.  She is a clinical psychologist and has written insightfully about problems facing our older citizens, young girls today in the US, boys growing up today and families that are overstressed. 

Books, videos, workshops and live instruction are available to face problems, difficulties, puzzles and fears that pop up during our life. Tools and guidance are more available than ever, many of them free.  Epstein's recent book "Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself" and Pipher's "Letters to a Young Therapist" help me see that worries that haunt a person are often widespread, not unique.  In many cases, ways to lessen or even eliminate today's worries and stresses are known and applicable.

People learn to make room for themselves, to be with uncomfortable emotional experiences, in a more accepting way.

Epstein, Mark. "Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself" (p. 4). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Let me be straight with you. I am not writing this book as an expert on inner peace. Nor am I offering sage advice from one who has been to the mountaintop. My authority does not come from being a relaxed and happy person, but rather from being a person who has sought calmness and happiness all of her life. I address you as a woman who has spent plenty of time talking herself and others down from emotional ledges.

Pipher, Mary. "Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World" (p. 1). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Phone or computer

Half of the traffic on the web comes from cellphones.  It is easy to pull out a phone and check something.  But a phone is small.  It is difficult at best to have several web pages open at the same time.  Right this minute, I have 12 web pages open in two different browsers and two other programs open, besides. Google has emphasized the growth of smartphone traffic on the internet and has urged businesses to design their web sites for mobile traffic.  If you want to see the difference, look at my blog Fear, Fun and Filoz with a computer and with a smartphone.

Way back in time, we used to have a dial-up connection to the internet but broadband is much steadier, faster and more usable.  The three main operating systems are Windows, Apple and Linux-Android.

It is easy to get frustrated using a computer or other device.  Getting frustrated can interfere with or stop your search for answers and information. In addition, it is easy to get distracted.  A picture of a good-looking model or sports hero or a blatant headline announcing the end of time can pull in my attention.  If you are older, you may completely forget that you were trying to find out more about that Senate bill that interests you.  

I am just writing to remind people that the modern computer is a fine tool, has a great deal more power and actual user space to work in, than a smartphone.  Good, light computers are available at attractive prices and often work out for computing, word processing and communication better, faster and more happily than a smartphone. 

A further point: it can be an advantage to NOT be connected to the internet all the time.  I am not thinking of that detective that your ex has hired to track your movements.  I am just thinking that knowing what you want to do, sitting down to do it, and leaving it all behind when you go off to friends or the store or the library can feel comfortable, organized and orderly.  

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Fwd: The Scout Report -- Volume 24, Number 3

Internet Scout has been around for 20 years or so.  It is constructed at the Univ. of Wisconsin Madison.  You can subscribe to it if you want.  Bill
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <>
Date: Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 10:36 AM
Subject: The Scout Report -- Volume 24, Number 3

January 19, 2018
Volume 24, Number 3

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools


In the News

If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to support The Scout Report and the work of Internet Scout, please visit our donation page.

Research and Education

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For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights
Social studies

Visual culture, including television, film, magazines, and photographs, played a central role in the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Photographs called national and international attention to racism and anti-black violence in the United States. Meanwhile, magazines such as Ebony and Jet changed how Americans viewed race, as did films like Carmen Jones and A Raisin in the Sun. For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights is an online resource that accompanies a traveling exhibition that was curated by Dr. Maurice Berger of the Center for Art, Design and Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, co-organized by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African-American History and Culture, and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visitors can check out the exhibition's schedule in the availability section of this website. An online version of this exhibit, which features captioned photographs of exhibition materials, can be found in the online tools section. Teachers may want to visit the lessons for educators section, which features three lesson plans for middle school students. While these lesson plans are designed to accompany an exhibition visit, they may also be used in tandem with the online exhibit. This website also includes a bibliography for further research and a helpful glossary. [MMB]

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New Jersey Center for Teaching & Learning: Course Materials

The New Jersey Center for Teaching & Learning is a nonprofit organization dedicated to K-12 STEM education. On the organization's course materials page, educators will find a number of free resources for teaching math and science. These resources, which were designed by a team of STEM educators, include presentations, homework assignments, lab activities, and assessments. This collection includes math and science resources in both English and Spanish, along with a few English-language resources in English language arts and computer science. Materials are organized by subject and grade level for easy browsing. Grade levels range from kindergarten to advanced high school, including resources for advanced placement calculus, physics, biology, and chemistry. [MMB]

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Exploratorium: Iron Science Teacher

Over the years, San Francisco's Exploratorium has created a number of fabulous science teaching resources. The Iron Science Teacher is a friendly competition modeled after the TV show Iron Chef. In each 30-60 minute video, four science educators appear before a live audience of young scientists at the Exploratorium and are presented with the same "ingredients." Each educator then uses these ingredients to create an interactive classroom activity. For example, in the episode, "Secret Ingredient: Breakfast Foods," teachers demonstrate science concepts and a potential lab activity using Cheerios, eggs, and milk. This video series offers a number of innovative ideas for activities to implement in science classrooms and after-school programs. [MMB]

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Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University
Social studies

From Stanford University comes this extensive digital history project that provides insight into the experiences and legacy of nineteenth-century Chinese railroad workers in North America. This project was headed by history professor Gordon Chang, English professor Shelley Fisher Fishkin, and American Studies scholar Hilton Obenzinger, in collaboration with a number of experts and organizations from both the United States and China. For visitors who are unfamiliar with the history of Chinese railroad workers in the U.S., the FAQs and timeline sections offer a good introduction. The highlight of this project is the rich collection of primary source materials available via the impressive research section. These materials include photographs, oral history interviews with descendants of railroad workers, historic magazines (many of which are available courtesy of the California Digital Newspaper Collection), and more. Those interested in conducting further research on the subject may want to view the two historiographies listed on the research page. [MMB]

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JAR: Journal for Artistic Research

Launched in March 2010, the Journal for Artistic Research describes itself as, "an international, online, open-access and peer-reviewed journal that disseminates artistic research from all disciplines." The journal is edited and reviewed by an international team of art scholars. JAR distinguishes itself from other online journals by offering multimedia articles (called "Expositions") that incorporate images and videos that aren't always linear. In the current issue of the journal, filmmaker Susannah Gent discusses her short, experimental film Unhomely Street and the role of philosophy, neuroscience, and psychoanalysis in the film. Her exposition features a number of images that inspired her film. Meanwhile, in another exposition, Meghan Moe Beitiks describes her project, "Systems of Pain/Networks of Resilience," which incorporates interviews with a number of individuals about trauma and recovery. [MMB]

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The Latin Works of John Wyclif; A searchable database of the primary texts

As the team behind this digital archive explains, fourteenth century English theologian John Wyclif has been described as, "the morning star of the Reformation" and also has been accused of supplying, "lying insanities in the ears of many." Wyclif, who was also a Biblical translator and seminary professor at Oxford, "contributed to nearly a century of religious dissent in late-medieval England and to England's first popular heretical movement, known as the Lollards." On this website, which was created by Fordham University theology professor J. Patrick Hornbeck, students of theology and philosophy can explore the works that Wycliff offered in Latin. While readers of Latin can explore these texts in their original language, the website also allows provides Google translations beside each paragraph. [MMB]

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SciJinks is a resource for K-12 science educators created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) dedicated to teaching young scientists about weather and weather-related careers. This resource contains interactive games, educational videos, images, posters, and classroom activities. Educators and students can browse these resources in a number of ways. In the topics section, materials are organized thematically: hurricanes and storms; clouds, water, and ice; tides and oceans; atmosphere, seasons, satellites and technology; and space weather. Visitors can also search materials by type of resource, including games, multimedia, and dispatches (short, illustrated explanations for phenomenon including El Nino and polar vortices.) Additional types of materials, including PDFs of classroom activities, can be browsed in the educators section. The people section contains short profiles of a number of weather professionals, offering young scientists a glimpse into possible future career paths. [MMB]

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Economic Policy Institute: Multimedia
Social studies

The Economic Policy Institute's Multimedia page offers a wealth of resources that may especially appeal to economics instructors, students, journalists, and grant writers. These resources include video, audio, infographics, interactives, and presentations. In the video section, visitors will find conference presentations along with television appearances by EPI economists. Similarly, the audio section features clips from shows such as NPR's Planet Money. The infographics and interactives sections present a variety of data about economics and labor issues in the United States. Finally, the presentations section includes recorded content from EPI staff, accompanied by a short essay that outlines the presentation. [MMB]

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General Interest

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Google Arts and Culture: Passage to India
Social studies

In autumn of 1939, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and shortly thereafter, by the Soviet Union. In December 1939, the Soviet Union exiled Polish individuals deemed, "politically unreliable elements," to deportation centers in the Soviet Union. There, those individuals faced brutal conditions and violence. Some were murdered in the 1940 Katyn Massacre, while many others died of starvation in the gulags. In 1941 and 1942, Wladyslaw Anders, who headed the Polish Armed Forces of the East (known as "Anders' Army"), evacuated thousands of Polish refugees to Iran. These evacuees included soldiers that Anders had recruited from deportation centers as well as civilians. Between 1942 and 1945, many of these refugees traveled from Iran to India, where they resettled. The Polish consulate in Mumbai (modern-day Bombay), with support and leadership from Maharaja Jam Saheb Digvijaysinhji, also resettled hundreds of orphaned children refugees in Balachadi. This Google Arts and Culture page from the Polish History Museum is dedicated to the experiences of Polish refugees in India. Through photographs, maps, and documents, this powerful online exhibit illuminates an important and often overlooked chapter of history. [MMB]

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Hi-Phi Nation

Hi-Phi Nation is a podcast that describes itself as, "a show about philosophy that turns ideas into stories." The podcast is hosted by Barry Lam, a philosophy professor at Vassar College. Launched in January 2017, this podcast is now in its second season, with 13 episodes available as of this write-up. In each 30-60 minute episode, Lam explores a different philosophical question or idea, often with a number of guest experts. In one recent episode, The Bottom of the Curve, Lam explores the commonality of the mid-life crisis and the factors that contribute to happiness and unhappiness at different stages of life. In another episode, The Ashes of Truth, Lam discusses a 1971 encounter between documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (who is interviewed in the episode) and philosopher Thomas Kuhn, author of the 1965 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. At the heart of the conflict between Morris and Kuhn were questions about the nature of truth. Each episode of this podcast is accompanied by suggested resources for those interested in exploring topics further. Lam plans to release new episodes at least once a month in 2018, so stay tuned. Fans of this podcast can subscribe via Apple Podcasts or Google Play. [MMB]

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William Smith's Maps

William Smith (1769-1839) was a land surveyor, mineral prospector, and geologist best known for creating the geological map of England and Wales in 1815. In addition, Smith completed a number of geological maps of individual English counties between 1819 and 1824. On this website, visitors can explore Smith's maps, which have been digitized courtesy of the National Museum of Wales, Stanford University, the University of Nottingham, and the Oxford University Museum of National Geography. Visitors can explore Smith's maps via the maps tab, alongside other historical and geological maps. These are organized on an interactive map of the United Kingdom. In addition, this website contains a biographical essay about Smith, along with an explanation of stratigraphy: "a part of geology concerned primarily with layering in sedimentary rocks." As the team behind this site notes, Smith used his knowledge of stratigraphy (although he never used the word) to create his impressive maps. [MMB]

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NOVA: Black Hole Apocalypse

Black holes, "the most enigmatic and exotic objects in the universe," are the subject of this new two-hour episode of PBS's NOVA, aired on January 10, 2018. Hosted by astrophysicist Janna Levin, this documentary explores how black holes were discovered and how these strange phenomena may have shaped our universe. Along the way, viewers are introduced to Karl Schwarzschild, the astronomer who proved that black holes were mathematically possible (to a skeptical Albert Einstein) and Jocelyn Bell, the graduate student who discovered a neutron star in 1967 and Paul Murdin, who identified Cygnus X-1, the first black hole to be identified in our galaxy. Through this link, visitors can watch the full episode and view the episode transcript. In addition, this episode is accompanied by a number of shorter clips that may be of interest. [MMB]

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Academy of American Poets: Poem-a-Day
Language Arts

The Academy of American Poets's Poem-a-Day is, "is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year." Each day, this website features a new poem, which visitors may choose to receive in their email inbox (by simply entering their email address in a sign-up box on the website) or explore on this site. The series features a blend of work from both contemporary poets and famous poets of yesteryear. Looking for a poem for a specific event or mood? This site also allows visitors to browse the Poem-a-Day archive by occasion (e.g. election day, break-ups, graduation), by theme (e.g. environment, parenting, vanity), or by form (e.g. acrostic, haiku, sonnet). [MMB]

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Social studies

Fans of the Golden Gate City will love FoundSF, "a wiki that invites history buffs, community leaders, and San Francisco citizens of all kinds to share their unique stories, images, and videos from past and present." This wiki is hosted by Shaping San Francisco, an organization dedicated to preserving and sharing San Francisco history. On FoundSF, anyone is invited to edit or add articles or media that document any aspect of San Francisco history. Visitors can browse this wiki by decade, neighborhood, population, or theme. In addition, FoundSF features eleven tours, which are collections of multiple pages that illuminate a certain aspect of San Francisco history. Tours include the Historic Habitat and Wild Species Tour, Transit History Tour, and Food Tour. [MMB]

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