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Spotting fake news

Right below this space you will find some links to places where you can check out news or stories you think might be fake or less than true.
We're among the few libraries that have taken the initiative to put this kind of information together. That's too bad.
But, it's also too bad that so few educational institutions seem to be making even this minimal amount of effort.
Time magazine reported on the fake news problem in last week's editions. Along with their lamentation about the phenomenon, they looked at some solutions.
They quote Peter Burger of Leiden University in The Netherlands as suggesting that at the most basic level, fundamental addtions have to be made to school curricula to teach kids how to spot fake news and how to deal with hoaxes.
Unfortunately, that is a longterm solution, if it is one at all.
For everyone else, you just have to keep your guard up.

Phone for all?

Tim Cook spent some time today defending the pricing of the new iPhone that goes on sale tomorrow.
Business Insider reported on his comments, among which were ones that pointed out that Apple does have some products that are actually below $400.
I'm not sure what those would be.
Certainly not the new iPhone. It is going to cost around $1,000.
That kind of takes my breath away.
I mean, I operate day in and day out with a smartphone that I bought from Wal-Mart for about $70, and it came with a month of free service. I don't even have a contract.
So, it is really hard for me to imagine what I would do with a $1,000 phone. Please tell me.
I know what I could do with the $1,000 I wouldn't spend on iPhone. I could buy two or three Dell laptops and a couple of desktops. I'd almost have enough money to buy an Apple laptop, but not quite.
Consumer electronic doo-dads are worth what people will pay, and for a reason I cannot fathom they will pay for Apples.

Flood-damaged photos

Right after the flood of Memorial Day weekend in 2015, the library brought in experts from the University of Texas to show people how to salvage their family photos.
They conducted some very helpful workshops, and while I don't have data to support it I think a lot of photos were saved because of their advice.
I have a daughter who made it through the Houston flood unscathed, thank goodness, and she asked me to email her some information about saving photos.
What I recall of what the UT folks advised was this:
If the photos are stuck together and you can't gently get them apart, you might as well discard them. You're probably not going to be able to save them, so concentrate on the ones that are single or that can be pried apart carefully.
For those, spread them out and let them dry on a flat surface, if possible. Don't start scraping debris off of them; you'll just peel off the image. If you have access to a freezer, put these photos in plastic bags and freeze them for a few weeks. That will help dry them out.
When they are dry, you can flatten them by using heavy books to weight them down.
If when you remove them from the freezer, they have dirt or debris on them, put them in clean water and gently swirl them to remove as much debris as possible. Then let air dry, then freeze again.
If you don't have access to a freezer, then spread the photos out and use a fan to dry them. Again, they will curl, but you can flatten later.
If the photos are in an album, try freezing the entire album, then try to remove the photos from their sleeves.
 

A gathering place

When there is talk of a wall between Mexico and the United States, the idea that comes to mind is to separate two groups of people one from another.
What if a wall could do the opposite and bring people together?
How about a Library Wall, where Mexicans and U.S. residents would gather to trade and sell books and talk about ideas?
Far-fetched?
Not for Ronald Rael, a professor at the Universitiy of California at Berkeley and the author of a new book called "Borderwall As Architecture."
Business Insider previews the ideas in the book in its online journal filed today.
The library iin Rael's book is just one of many designed to make something of the wall besides, well, a mere wall.
He has, for example, plans for a Burrito Wall, where people would come to break bread together.
And there's a solar-energy gathering wall among his proposals.
The library wall actually has a prototype up on the Canadian-U.S. border, according to BI.
So, you know, if we build they might come. And that might not be such a bad thing after all.

Ancestry.baloney

The newspaper story lead paragraph of the year belongs to one Cameron McWhirter, whose story in last weekend's Wall Street Journal about genealogy began this way:
"I am descended, at least partially, from liars."
McWhirter then details the unfolding untruths that he was told by his parents about who his family was and where they came from.
What they said was somewhat less than truthful, as he notes in his opening.
And, boy, is he not alone.
I wonder how many people were told whoppers by their parents and grandparents and are just now finding out they didn't actually descend from Hiawatha and/or King Richard III and/or Eric the Red.
I have done a little digging around on Ancestry.com, enough to know that what my dad told me was pretty much true: I'm a white bread kind of guy with roots in Scotland and England, period. That has been a source of great disappointment to my daughters, who hoped we had roots back in the land of the Choctaws.
I have not had the definitive DNA tests that are out there, and probably will not have one. I am interested in my ancestry. I am not interested in knowing whether I will get cancer or Alzheimer's.
 
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