Some things read this week, 18 – 24 November 2007

Sunday, 18 Nov

Norman, Richard. “Holy Communion.” Eurozine [First published in New Humanist 6/2007].

Discusses New Wave Atheism and how it is aggressively antagonistic to religion, which is the wrong way to proceed. I most certainly agree with this.

When recent books by Dawkins, Hitchens and others began coming out I was excited at first. It was good to see that intellectuals were once again engaging with the issues of the day. But as soon as the reviews started appearing I was more appalled than anything. The overly simplistic argumentation, the selective choice of examples, and the tack taken was wrong, for many reasons.

I am what many would call an atheist. I much prefer the term agnostic, though, as that is the best I can epistemologically claim. If you like, I have faith that there is no god (or gods), except those which we create in our own likeness. But I cannot know this.

Whatever our beliefs, be they atheism, humanism, Hinduism, Catholicism, some form of Protestantism, Islamism, etc., we are all in the same boat. Many of us have the same beliefs and goals about how others ought to be treated or how the world could be. We need to work together toward these. Clearly, there are differences between people and groups of people, but aggressive differentiation serves no useful purpose.

Hjørland, Birger and Jeppe Nicolaisen. “Bradford’s Law of Scattering: Ambiguities in the Concept of “Subject.” In F. Crestani and I. Ruthven (Eds.). CoLIS 2005: Context: Nature, Impact, and Role; Lecture Notes in Computer Science 3507: 96-105.

Hjørland, Birger. “Towards a Theory of Aboutness, Subject, Topicality, Theme, Domain, Field, Content . . . and Relevance.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 52.9 (2001): 774-778.

Sunday – Tuesday, 18 – 20 Nov

Hjørland, Birger. Information Seeking and Subject Representation: An Activity-theoretical Approach to Information Science. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1997.

  • Ch. 4: The Concept of Subject or Subject Matter and Basic Epistemological Positions

Monday, 19 Nov

Harris, Roy. The Language Connection: Philosophy and Linguistics. Bristol, U.K: Thoemmes Press, 1996. [Re-reading]

  • Ch. 8: Metalinguistic Improvements
  • Ch. 9: Metalinguistic Mistakes
  • Ch. 10: Metalinguistic Illusions

Monday – Tuesday, 19 – 20 Nov

Hjorland, Birger. “Information Retrieval, Text Composition, and Semantics.” Knowledge Organization 25.1/2 (1998): 16-31.

Argues for a broader—and different—view of semantics within LIS. Primarily contrasts Wittgenstein’s early “picture theory” with his later “theory of language games,” but has several useful touchpoints for shifting to a more integrationist theory.

Tuesday, 20 Nov

Harris, Roy. The Language Connection: Philosophy and Linguistics. Bristol, U.K: Thoemmes Press, 1996.

  • Postscript

Tallis, Raymond. Escape from Eden. New Humanist 118(4), Nov/Dec 2003. Found via The End of Cyberspace blog.

I know what I said—and I stand by it—about link posts but I’ve gotten more interesting links from Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s link posts than everyone else combined.

By the way librarians, have you seen his post from 17 Nov, “Libraries as space 2.0…and early indicators of social IT trends?” He ends with the following:

But if I’m not mistaken, librarians started talking about information commons around 2001– well before Friendster, LinkedIn, and all the rest of Web 2.0 happened. I wonder what librarians are talking about these days?

Perhaps some of you can help him out with that question.

From the Tallis article which is a discussion of how it is that humans are more than just the animals that we are.

Criticising the language of the biologisers is not, however, enough. Defenders of human exceptionalism must, given our undoubted biological origins, find a ‘biological’ basis for our unique escape from biology and a ‘biological’ explanation of how we acquired the ability to run our lives — as opposed to being run by genes that happen to delude us into believing that we are running our lives. Given the relative triviality of the genotypical and phenotypical differences between ourselves and our closest primate cousins, this may seem a tall order.

Harris, Roy. Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein: How to Play Games with Words. London and New York: Routledge, 1988.

  • Ch. 1: Texts and Contexts (Tue)
  • Ch. 2: Names and Nomenclatures (Tue-Wed)
  • Ch. 3: Linguistic Units (Thu)
  • Ch. 4: Language and Thought (Fri AM)
  • Ch. 5: Systems and Users (Fri)
  • Ch. 6: Arbitrariness (Fri)
  • Ch. 7: Grammar (Sat)
  • Ch. 8: Variation and Change (Sat)
  • Ch. 9: Communication (Sat)
  • Ch. 10: Language and Science (Sat)

Despite the differences between Saussure’s and Wittgenstein’s later thoughts on language they are remarkably similar. In this book, Harris explicates the games analogy that both used.

Saturday, 24 Nov

Winograd, Terry and Fernando Flores. Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley, 1987.

  • Ch. 1: Introduction.
  • Ch. 2: The rationalistic tradition.
  • Ch. 3: Understanding and Being.
  • Ch. 4: Cognition as a biological phenomenon.


Via jennimi

I’m a Mandarin!

You’re an intellectual, and you’ve worked hard to get where you are now. You’re a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world’s problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you’re determined to try.

Talent: 26%
Lifer: 41%
Mandarin: 74%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

Very Rare, indeed

Your Personality is Very Rare (INTP)

Your personality type is goofy, imaginative, relaxed, and brilliant.
Only about 4% of all people have your personality, including 2% of all women and 6% of all menYou are Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving.

How Rare Is Your Personality?

Blame or credit for this one goes to Jennifer.

Hard to trust a 12-question personality test, but I think this is my “normal” Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Not that I need a quiz or test to tell me that I’m an oddball.

Of course, if I could let the goofy relaxed guy out a bit more often I could cement that view in other minds, too. 🙂

P.S. I only like my steak somewhat rare, too.

as ranger said, “duh huh, seriously”

Found at in the hoosegow back in early April

What Be Your Nerd Type?

Your Result: Literature Nerd



Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it’s eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today’s society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It’s okay. I understand.

Social Nerd



Science/Math Nerd



Gamer/Computer Nerd



Drama Nerd



Anime Nerd






Artistic Nerd



What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

Not sure what’s up with the red bars which should be in the boxes … nor do they really match up cause social nerd should only be about 3/4s across and the rest correspondingly less so. The last 2 were blank, though.

Which book am I?

You’re The Sound and the Fury!

by William Faulkner

Strong-willed but deeply confused, you are trying to come to grips with a major crisis in your life. You can see many different perspectives on the issue, but you’re mostly overwhelmed with despair at what you’ve lost. People often have a hard time understanding you, but they have some vague sense that you must be brilliant anyway. Ultimately, you signify nothing.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Whoa, Nelly! Finally a quiz that gets it right; well, descriptively anyway. Seeing as I haven’t read it I can’t say regarding the work itself.

People often have a hard time understanding you, but they have some vague sense that you must be brilliant anyway. Ultimately, you signify nothing. 😉

Found at Life as I Know It, who found it at John Miedema, who gets to be Siddhartha. Chilling out under a tree and believing in ferries. Now that is the life. Seeing as this is the only one of these three books that I’ve read I get those references.

Well, if I had only known … this explains everything & the dang monkey even looks like me


Your Score: Loser- INTP

33% Extraversion, 66% Intuition, 66% Thinking, 40% Judging

Talked to another human being lately? I’m serious. You value knowledge above ALL else. You love new ideas, and become very excited over abstractions and theories. The fact that nobody else cares still hasn’t become apparent to you…

Nerd’s a great word to describe you, and I seriously couldn’t care less about the different definitions of the word and why you’re actually more of a geek than a nerd. Don’t pretend you weren’t thinking that. You want every single miniscule fact and theory to be presented correctly.

Critical? Sarcastic? Cynical? Pessimistic? Just a few words to describe you when you’re at your very best…*cough* Sorry, I mean worst. Picking up the dudes or dudettes isn’t something you find easy, but don’t worry too much about it. You can blame it on your personality type now.

On top of all this, you’re shy. Nice one, wench. No wonder you’re on OKCupid!
Now, quickly go and delete everything about “theoretical questions” from your profile page. As long as nobody tries to start a conversation with you, just MAYBE you’ll now have a chance of picking up a date. But don’t get your hopes up.

I am interested though. If a tree fell over in a forest, would it really make a sound?


If you want to learn more about your personality type in a slightly less negative way, check out this.


The other personality types are as follows…

LonerIntroverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving

PushoverIntroverted Sensing Feeling Judging

CriminalIntroverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving

BorefestIntroverted Sensing Thinking Judging

Almost PerfectIntroverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving

FreakIntroverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging

CrackpotIntroverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

ClownExtraverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving

SapExtraverted Sensing Feeling Judging

CommanderExtraverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving

Do GooderExtraverted Sensing Thinking Judging

ScumbagExtraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving

BusybodyExtraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging

PrickExtraverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving

DictatorExtraverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

Link: The Brutally Honest Personality Test written by UltimateMaster on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Found at my friends blog, Widening Circles. And, Jenn, I’d much rather be a Freak than a Loser. I’m so glad neither one of us believes any of this tripe. ;)But it really fits my mood lately. 🙁

I am a semicolon


Your Score: Semicolon

You scored 30% Sociability and 64% Sophistication!

Congratulations! You are the semicolon! You are the highest expression of punctuation; no one has more of a right to be proud. In the hands of a master, you will purr, sneering at commas, dismissing periods as beneath your contempt. You separate and connect at the same time, and no one does it better. The novice will find you difficult to come to terms with, but you need no one. You are secure in your elegance, knowing that you, and only you, have the power to mark the skill or incompetence of the craftsman.

You have no natural enemies; all fear you.

And never, NEVER let anyone tell you that you cannot appear in dialogue!

Link: The Which Punctuation Mark Are You Test written by Gazda on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Me, an aristocrat? Or 2

Found at LibraryTavern

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
The Very Reverend Mark the Profuse of Nether Wombleshire
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title


My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Count-Palatine Mark the Nimble of Greater Sodbury
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Take your pick!

I kind of like them both. Me a Reverend; now that is funny! But I’ll happily take “the Profuse.” As for “Count-Palatine,” well, I’ve lived in the Palatinate twice now, and my son was born there. I practically deserve to be a Count-Palatinate. Look at all the cool toys one would get to play with. And the dress clothes are far better than any interview suit and tie get-up. One’s kitchen might even come with flowery pots and pans; what more could a nimble knight of the Palatinate desire?

Five things you don’t know about me

I got tagged by my friend, jennimi, a few days ago.

It has taken me a while to decide on what to reveal; sorry Jenn! This sort of ties in to many of the issues which caused me to “withdraw” somewhat recently, thus I was a bit “careful” about what to put here. I had several ideas but decided that that detail might be a bit more context sensitive, at least to me and when and to whom I might tell it. Shades of storytelling arising again….

Well, with any luck, these tidbits may be interesting, intriguing or entertaining, but not TMI.

  1. In a much younger life, I had the responsibility of unlocking and passing the Permissive Action Link codes to unlock the nuclear warheads on our missile site in West Germany.
  2. I used to collect beer cans, for almost 20 years. I still have some in storage.
  3. I cut two fingers on my right hand to the bone with an X-acto knife. On Christmas Day. When I was 12, I think.
  4. I listen to Lambchop’s song, “the new cobweb summer,” (almost) every night before I go to bed for the opening lyric, “The last thought that you think today / has already happened…”
  5. I, and the rest of my family (and many others), have a permanent life-time ban on donating blood. This is thanks to being in Europe during the beginnings of the Mad Cow scare, or more accurately, the rise of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

Hopefully nothing here will cost me a job someday. Hehe. Just some of the more mundane facts about my life.

If you haven’t done this yet, and you would like to, then feel free to feel tagged. I’m a little too out of shape right now to be tagging anyone and running away.

Weird weather lately

Yes, Virginia, we, too, have been having unseasonably warm weather. In late November. Had to open my window last night; after turning off the heat several days ago. It’ll be in the 60s today, getting rainier, and then sleet and 20s for tomorrow. Yay! November is back.

Seriously though, we had some great weather over break. Warm, sunny and calm winds. We had at least 3 days like that. I did get to the disc golf course on Black Friday. If I had been paying attention I could have went on Thanksgiving or Sat. It’s been warm in assorted ways for even longer. Up till today, anyway.

I got in to talk with Carole about my class yesterday. It’s all good; I’ll just be taking a little longer. Carole was awesome, as usual. Discussed many of the same things as I did with Kathryn last week; this discussion was far lass abstract, though. Seems I have a better handle on how to possibly get the rest of my education restarted. I don’t necessarily have an “answer;” I have a path that may provide an answer. It feels ok.

It is odd, but I seem to be stitching together my recent past, present, and near future education into a (possibly) coherent vision. Probably the main reason the story couldn’t be constructed, much less told, was I needed to come to grips with how dichotomous it has all been and seemed, lately. I let Carole in on some of that oddness yesterday; but again, eight days later I have more of a plan.

She was great, and in advisor role, not professor. She knows me well enough to take a more long-term and growth-oriented perspective. I have been lucky to have people like Carole and Kathryn (and others) to talk to here at GSLIS.

In other news, I heard from Dr. Marcia Zeng yesterday that I am on the ASIS&T Standards Committee. Dr. Zeng is the incoming Chair of the committee.

Today I picked up a book I ordered via ILL to evaluate personally and as a possible recommendation for the LIS Library to purchase: Advance Topics in Information Technology Standards and Standardization Research, Vol. 1. / Kai Jakobs, ed., c2005. It looks like a current overview of (some) issues in standards and could be very helpful. I’ll have to have a look at the previous title, also: Information technology standards and standardization : a global perspective / Kai Jakobs, c2000.

This morning when I headed out of the house the day was just like a warm day in late November “should” be, that is, blustery, gray and overcast. It still is that way in mid-afternoon. Said cooling off is still scheduled for tomorrow morning. In fact, if it stays as currently forecast, I’ll be able to leave the window open tonight and close it when I get up tomorrow.