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March 29th, 2014
06:20 pm

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Early version of Alice in Wonderland
A year or three ago, I mentioned having an early version of Alice in Wonderland, and someone, I have no remembrance of who, asked me about the title. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be any way to search on "small Dover book with light purple cover". There were ways I could have found it online (like searching on something like [Dodson bibliography]), but instead, victory was achieved when I went through a stack of books to see what I wanted to get rid of.

The book is Alice's Adventures Underground, and available in facsimile from both Project Gutenberg and Amazon.

As I recall, it doesn't have the nastier bits, like the Duchess.

Perhaps someday Amazon will include searches on descriptions of book covers-- I believe this could be automated. Or maybe it's Google's job.

Anyway, I hope this post gets to the person who was curious about the book.

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06:11 pm

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An engineer vs. management


Funniest thing I've seen lately-- probably because I'm not in the situation.

Video thanks to Diane Kurilecz at Facebook.

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12:53 pm

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Clever book covers


This is the Croatian cover for Jo Walton's Among Others. I'm delighted by the image because part of the story is about the main character and her dead twin sister, but the sister isn't a conventional ghost. I'd have to reread the book to think clearly about how the sister is different from a typical ghost.

The only other cover I've seen which has delighted me in this way was a Dover edition of Stapledon's Last and First Men and Star Maker-- the book has a lot about group minds, so a coral is rather appropriate.*



Any recommendations for ingenious cover images?

*When I looked this up, I found that there is also an edition with the coral in turquoise, which shows up better than the dark blue.

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March 26th, 2014
01:23 pm

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Imagination and time travel
"What is the first example of a story in which people travel in time to the past?"

This is fun in itself, but it also reminds me of a question: is there anything substantial written about people imagining themselves in the past? What parts of their identity do people keep stable? Is imagining oneself in the past a fairly modern invention? Is there a difference between "I can imagine myself in times and places that members of my group(s) were" vs. "I can imagine myself in any part of the past"?

This is a rather psychological take on the question, but a literary version could make sense-- what's going on in stories about going into the past?

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12:53 pm

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Being fair is costly for bosses
The abstract:
Bosses who are fair make their workers happier and their companies more productive, but in the end may be burning themselves out. The study found that the act of carefully monitoring the fairness of workplace decisions wears down supervisors mentally and emotionally. "Managers who are mentally fatigued are more prone to making mistakes and it is more difficult for them to control deviant or counterproductive impulses," the lead author said.

As is annoyingly common, there's no mention of the size of the effect, nor the variation in it.

The original article's abstract (the article itself is behind a paywall):
The justice literature has paid considerable attention to the beneficial effects of fair behaviors for recipients of such behaviors. It is possible, however, that exhibiting fair behaviors may come at a cost for actors. In this article, we integrate ego depletion theory with organizational justice research in order to examine the consequences of justice behaviors for actors. We used an experience-sampling method in a sample of managerial employees to examine the relations of performing procedural justice and interpersonal justice behaviors with subsequent changes in actors’ regulatory resources. Our results indicate that procedural justice behaviors are draining, whereas interpersonal justice behaviors are replenishing for actors. Depletion, in turn, adversely affected the performance of citizenship behavior, and depletion mediated relations of justice behavior with citizenship. Furthermore, 2 traits that impact self-regulatory skills—extraversion and neuroticism—moderated the replenishing effects of engaging in interpersonal justice behaviors. We conclude by discussing implications and avenues for future research.

It might mean that administering rules wears people out, but actually talking with people about their concerns and encouraging solutions doesn't wear them out, but I'm guessing. What do you think? Anyone know how to get past the paywall?

Original link thanks to andrewducker.

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12:40 pm

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Roman bread stamps?
This article about a beautifully preserved loaf of bread from Pompeii, mentions"a Roman bread stamp, which bakeries were required to use in order to mark the source of the loaves, and to prevent fraud", but I haven't been able to find out anything about the regulations or how bread stamps were supposed to keep the bread supply honest. Anybody know?
round loaf, now stone

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March 23rd, 2014
09:09 am

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You can't change other people's minds
From Ragen Chastain:
We can never change someone’s mind – they have to do that, it being their mind and all - but we may be able to expand it with a new idea, a new perspective, a new option and that is powerful.

P.S. The whole thing is worth reading, and includes a cute penguin story.

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March 20th, 2014
12:16 pm

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Ukraine and nukes
Poll #1961377
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 29

Would it have been better if Ukraine had been allowed to keep its nukes?

View Answers
Yes
3 (10.7%)
No
13 (46.4%)
I'll explain as a comments
2 (7.1%)
I just want to see the results
10 (35.7%)


I don't have a strong opinion-- it seems to me that pressuring Ukraine to give up its nukes-- or not pressuring it-- involves a lot of estimates. The only things I'm sure of at this point if that if Ukraine had nukes, the current situation wouldn't have happened.

Tags: , ,

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March 19th, 2014
09:29 am

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Engineering archaeology and reverse smuggling of information
An engineer attempts to re-document an undocumented factory.
The first step is finding out what the plant's name is. It turns out that the name most engineers use is just a colloquial name based on its location, and it has another official name. Several of them, even. There is the name of the internal project that designed it, and the name of the joint venture under which it was actually built.

There was a unique ID assigned in 1998 as part of a document-management revamp. There is another unique ID, assigned in 2001 for digitization purposes. It's not entirely clear which document management systems are current, incidentally. Also, some of them point to other document-management systems.

No luck here. The 1998 ID points to documents located in a "library" at an address that hasn't existed since long before 1998, which might explain why that 2001 ID doesn't point to any digitized documents older than some recent reports on routine maintenance. At the time, I had naively hoped digitization would solve our problems forever. My manager was reading a dense book about it that I picked up out of curiosity. It had seemed persuasive.

The tale would be utterly delightful if it were in a satire. As it is....there had been changes of ownership, the documentation was gone, and all that was left was folk knowledge of how to keep the petroleum factory going. When management wanted to streamline a process, they found they didn't know enough, and called in a retired engineer.

Fortunately, engineers keep more documentation than they're allowed to. They care more about keeping things running than absolute protection of company secrets. So the engineer still had his documentation (as engineers do), and could contact other engineers from the same plant who had other pieces of illicit documentation.

Then he had to smuggle it back into the company library because the documentation was something he wasn't supposed to have.

I've been worrying about infrastructure neglect for a while, and I was going to say that it's a menace which is at least more immanent than climate change (though entangled with it), nanotech, or unfriendly artificial intelligence. I was going to do a theme of "we are screwed, we are so screwed", but then I remember that it's good to quantify predictions, at least roughly, and I have no idea how to do it with this one.

Infrastructure neglect is a problem, and is going to be a worse problem, but any thoughts about how bad it's likely to get? Assume a universe which is difficult but not actively malign.

I found the essay because Brad Hicks linked to it, but the original link was dead for a day or so, and I like the essay enough that I'm including a complete copy.

The whole textCollapse )

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09:05 am

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On the importance of courtesy and need for long t-shirts
Recently, a low quality person took photos of players at a Magic tournament whose asscracks were showing, and publicized the photos for purposes of mockery.

This was obviously not decent behavior, but theferrett included the practical side of the matter. A lot of men have long bodies-- longer than is allowed for by typical t-shirts, even in large sizes-- the large sizes are more wide than long.

I've passed the word to a t-shirt huckster, and I recommend that you do the same, and possibly also mention this to t-shirt manufacturers.

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