Monday News: Halloween Hodgepodge
Making the Web More Reliable — 20 Years and Counting – I forgot to post this last week, but better late than never. The Internet Archive has turned 20, and it continues to innovate strategies to preserve digital content, from webpages to books. The Archive includes “more than 273 billion web pages and more than 510 billion web objects,” adding 500 million + pages per week. The Open Library has been making improvements, as well,
- Thanks to the efforts of Giovanni Damiola, full-text search through all books hosted on the Internet Archive is back online and is faster than ever. You can try the new feature, for example, to see over 115,000 places where works reference Benjamin Franklin’s maxim: “Little strokes fell great oaks”.
- Thanks to Richard Caceres, we have a beautiful new Book Reader, which looks great on mobile devices and provides a much clearer and simpler book borrowing experience. Try out the new Book Reader and see for yourself!
- Users who start loans from the BookReader can borrow either EPUB orPDF formats, and switch formats during the loan period.
- Users who start loans from the BookReader can return loans early, even EPUBs and PDFs. – Internet Archive
Why we’ll always be obsessed with – and afraid of – monsters – Speaking of technology, USC’s Leo Braudy argues that the construction of the monster as “the embodiment of fear, disorder and abnormality.” Braudy talks about the relationship between emerging technologies and fear, and in particular the way that zombies have become the 21st century’s most apt incarnation of the monstrous. The origins of the gothic novel are also tied to fear of the monstrous, and to the failure of rationality to vanquish the horrors of the unknown:
The 1700s and 1800s were an era of revolutionary uprisings that trumpeted a limitless future, when the philosophers and scientists of the Enlightenment proclaimed that reason had the power to change the world. Emotion was pushed out of the intellectual sphere by scientific reasoning; awestruck spirituality had been repressed in favor of the Clockmaker God who set the universal laws into motion.
Of course, humans have always been afraid. But while the fears of the demonic and the diabolical characterized medieval times, the changes wrought by the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution created a whole new set of fears tied to advancements in science and technology, and an increasingly crowded and complex world.
During this age of political upheavals and aggressive modernization, tales of Gothic horror, haunted castles, secret compartments and rotting corpses were the rage. The novels and stories of writers such as Horace Walpole, Matthew G. Lewis, Anne Radcliffe and Mary Shelley soon became bestsellers. These writers – and many others – tapped into something pervasive, giving names and bodies to a universal emotion: fear. – The Conversation
Butt shot shows promise as male birth control—but many side effects, too – speaking of fear, I suspect a birth control shot for men will generate a lot of it, despite the fact that women have been the guinea pigs for myriad types of birth control for, well, ever. I love the side effects from this new hormone shot, testing of which has been chronicled in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Acne and mood swings. Hmmm. Where have we seen those before? In any case, I’m glad to see that male birth control in the form of a shot every two months is in the clinical testing phase – it’s a tiny step toward contraceptive gender equality.
During the testing phase, four women got pregnant and six men saw their sperm counts rebound. Counting the failure rate during the “suppression” phase, the overall failure rate of the hormone shots was 7.5 percent—i.e., the shots had a 92.5 percent success rate.
However, many of the men reported of side effects. Nearly half of the 320 men (46 percent) reported developing acne. Thirty-eight percent reported an increased sex-drive. Twenty-three percent had injection-site pain, and 17 percent had emotional disorders.
After the study was complete, five percent of men didn’t recover their sperm count levels in the year after their last injection.
Still, in the end more than 75 percent of participants said they’d be willing to use the contraception method in the future if it were available. The study’s authors concluded that the method was “relatively good,” but needed tweaking. – Ars Technica
Man Plays ‘Ghostbusters’ Theme Song on Pumpkins – Happy Halloween!
Dan Ndombe, of Little Rock, Arkansas, can play the “Ghostbusters” theme song on pumpkins, and the result is nothing short of Halloween magic.
A software engineer and website designer by day, he said music is just a hobby for him, although he has a large following on social media under the nickname Dan Newbie. – ABC News