Saturday, April 22, 2006

Language Map of the U.S.

The United States is the country with the greatest diversity of languages in the world, except for Papua New Guinea. This week the Modern Language Association (MLA) launched a greatly enhanced new version of its interactive Language Map. Using data from the 2000 United States Census, the MLA Language Map provides information about the locations, age and English-language speaking ability of Americans who speak a language other than English at home. In just seconds you can find, compare and tabulate data about any of 300 languages, from Arabic to Yiddish. You can map the concentration of their speakers--by state, county, zip code and town. Although it doesn’t include my language (Feline), this is a great tool for students, scholars, people in business and public service, and anyone curious about American culture.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Friday, April 21, 2006

Deciphering Jargon

Half the battle in learning a new discipline is understanding the jargon. Especially true for law, imhfo*. Did you know that there are specialized dictionaries for just about any field, and that there are many of these available on the Web?

My favorite "go to" site for dictionaries is for a listing of specialized dictionaries. This site has some much more than dictionaries - see my December 12, 2005 posting on it.

Two of my favorites (today) are The Skeptic's Dictionary and The Music Dictionary Online .

(*in my humble feline opinion)

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Thursday, April 20, 2006


GovTrack is a customizable "nexus of information" about the United States Congress, one that follows the status of legislation and the activities of U.S. senators and representatives.

As its name suggests, GovTrack tracks legislative events and categorizes them into thousands of subjects, so that users may subscribe to follow only the events that interest them. For instance, registered users may monitor such events as the status of specific legislation, speeches of members of Congress on the House and Senate floors, voting records, campaign contribution summaries, and other public information. Users may then elect to have the results delivered to their e-mail accounts or RDF/RSS feeds, either daily or weekly.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Law Library Poll on Quiet/Talking Spaces for the Spring 2006 Exam Period

**Update (8:41 a.m.). Users have reported some difficulties accessing the poll from Firefox. For this particular survey tool, you may need to switch over to Internet Explorer to participate. Apologies for the difficulties.**

Due to the increasing number of complaints about noise in the library, we are considering temporarily modifying the talking/quiet designations for the upcoming exam period (May 2 - May 17, 2006). Since this is an issue which may directly impact you, I invite you to participate in a quick poll to express your preference :

Please vote only once. If there is evidence of widespread abuse (e.g. twice the number of votes than the number of students), I will discard the results. Any decision that the library makes will be distributed through email and posted on this blog.

The poll will close at midnight on Tuesday, April 25, 2006.

Two other important notes :

(1) If the voting shows substantial support (even if the number is still a minority of the total votes) for talking areas, the existing room designations will not be changed.

(2) Regardless of the vote, please remember that any "talking" areas of the library are intended for low-voiced talking, for primarily study purposes. Because of the floor layout of the library, sounds carry easily. Please be courteous of others by keeping voices low both in the "talking" rooms and while walking from one room to the next.

Thank you for your input.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Math and Poetry

Did you know that April is both Mathematics Awareness Month and National Poetry Month? Well, it is. And by coincidence, one person (who happens to be a volunteer elementary school librarian) has combined the two.

You might recall from math class the Fibonacci sequence, where you start with 0 and 1, and each number after that is the sum of the two before (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, ...). This person, Gregory, decided to write a 6 line poem, with each line having the number of syllables in the order of the Fibonacci numbers, starting with one. He asked for others, and hundreds of people wrote poems. You can see his original, and the ones left by comment writers, on his blog page entry.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

One hundred years ago today in San Francisco

100 years ago today was the great earthquake and fire in San Francisco. From Wikipedia,

"The most widely accepted magnitude for the earthquake is a moment magnitude (Mw) 7.8 however other values have been proposed [1]. The mainshock epicenter occurred offshore about 2 miles from the city. It ruptured along the San Andreas Fault both northward and southward for a total length of 296 miles (477 kilometers)[2]. Shaking was felt from Oregon to Los Angeles, and inland as far as central Nevada. The earthquake and resulting fire would be remembered as one of the worst natural disasters to hit a major city in the history of the United States, comparable in devastation to the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and Hurricane Katrina."

There are numerous sites that gather comprehensive information on this event.

NPR: One Hundred Years After the San Francisco Quake

Library of Congress. American Memory: Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire, Early Films of San Francisco

USGS: The 1906 San Francisco Quake

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat