I got a chance to see the movie Agora in the theatres a month or so ago – it’s the story of Hypatia and the fall of the library of Alexandria. One of my friends asked me a question based on my comment about the movie – that they got lots of the historical details very right, but that I noted that one exception was that the Parabalani (the fanatical sect responsible for her death) are wearing very black black. Which, historically, is not very probable.
(You can, as I point out below, start with wool from a black sheep. In this case, though, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case: both the very open weave of the fabric and the way it hung made me fairly sure it was linen, not wool. Also, generally, wool and silk take color better (i.e. darker/richer color for the equivalent amount of dye) than linen, though there are always variables.)
Also, I’m taking this answer a little more conversational than is my usual habit here, because it came out of an existing comment I’d made.
So, my friend asked:
At what level of technology could one get black cloth reasonably cheaply? If other factors come in to either the black dye or the cheapness, which I imagine they do, what are they?
Continue reading Ask This Librarian: Black clothing
danah boyd had an interesting post earlier this week on a different side of the question of online identity: do your name your child something that’s uniquely identifying (meaning they have to learn about managing their online identity very early), or something more common (where there could be a number of people with that name.)
As someone whose first name – Jennifer – was the most popular name for girls in the entire decade I was born, but whose last name is a lot less common, at least in the US, I sort of split the difference. But it did mean I started using other user names in places where I didn’t necessarily want to use my last name pretty early on, because knowing my first name and last name and general area of the country was, for about a decade, a pretty easy way to dig up my address.
Not So Distant Future has a great post about who we should be including in the conversation when we talk about education – more specifically, a letter to NBC about not having included actual teachers in their upcoming series.
The copy this blog has a post on some common myths and misperceptions about copyright – fairly complex ones. The link in the first paragraph to a previous post on a similar topic is also well worth reading.
I’ve been fascinated by web usability for a long time, and there’s a recent new detailed post about why some of the things that have been common wisdom in usability may be changing (or not true in the first place). With links to data and studies and other useful things of that kind. It gave me a kick to go plan the redesign of a site I maintain for a community education organisation for better usability. Jessamyn, who linked to this post as well, also has a recommendation for a document from Usability.gov .
A friend with some plans around fiction writing asks:
I’m thinking of researching the parallels between vampires and witches, mostly from folkloric/superstitious claims (as opposed to historical witchcraft/modern Paganism). I don’t know that there are any resources on both together, but reliable information on both individually, especially where categorized by culture/geographic location, would be glorious and much appreciated.
Continue reading Ask This Librarian – folklore, witches, and vampires
(again, part of the continuing series in my Ask This Librarian project)
Both sides of the BPA debate love to mention studies. This usually takes the form of “studies actually show…” rather than useful cites. How can I track down these studies, and has anyone done a findable summary of the studies that at least appears to attempt to analyze the data before finding its conclusion, instead of vice versa?
This is, as one might imagine, a rather complicated question to answer.
Continue reading Ask this librarian – BPA study summaries
One of the questions I was asked is what the recommendation is on getting a new pet after the death of an older, much loved, pet.
Continue reading Ask This Librarian – After a beloved pet dies
It’s the beginning of the school year in many places, so conversations about intellectual honesty and avoiding plagiarism are springing up all over the place. During one, someone linked to a particularly nice resource from the University of Queensland that includes links to other useful sites.
I’ve been following an interesting conversation on the PubLib email list about how to talk about books that a patron asks about, but that weren’t to our taste for some reason. Part of the reason this came up was an article about the latest book in Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series (which has some spoilers for the plot, but which is mostly focusing on how grisly might be too grisly, as it were.
An article at the Chronicle of Higher Education looks at the strengths that people on the autistic spectrum bring to academic work, and other benefits of neurodiversity.
Brian, at Swiss Army Librarian, has a great post noting that someone put together a way to search library and librarian blogs. (I’ve added this one…)
GeekFeminism had a recent post of interest about getting diversity among conference presenters. In particular, they link for a couple of resources for people interested in speaking to list themselves.
DearAuthor.com (a site focusing mostly on romance reviews, but with periodic great pieces on publishing, books, genre reading in general, and all sorts of related topics) has a great post up about democracy in book reviewing, both how to have more reviews from wider perspectives, but also more reviews in the big mainstream review sources of a wider range of books. Fascinating discussion.
Finally, a new search engine, SweetSearch, focuses on material selected by research experts, and librarian and teacher consultants. I’ve tried a few searches with interesting results, and they also have links to other resources and ideas on teaching information literacy.
Today’s question is about creating beaded bookmarks. The person asking says:
I wanted to bead a bookmark. What resources would I need to start learning how to do this? (I’ve only beaded jewelry before).
My first thought, looking at this with the intention to answer it, was “What kind of beading?” – there’s beading on string, on wire, or bead weaving. I sent a note to ask which – though if I hadn’t had an easy way to do that, I would have just given some general information on all three.
Bead wire or bead weaving. What’s bead weaving? That sounds cool.
Continue reading Ask This Librarian – Beaded bookmarks
Today’s question, from a friend who just put a much beloved elderly pet to sleep:
I found out from a chart at the vet’s that Kelty, a 15-year-old Chow/Malamute mix, was, in human years, 99 years old! I want to know how the idea of “dog-years” got started, who figures it out, what kinds of information is added to the mix when they decided how it worked, etc. All about it…
My answer below…
Continue reading Ask This Librarian – Dog years