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“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) makes available the authentic, digital version of the official directory of the 115th Congress. Mandated by Title 44 of the U.S. Code, the Congressional Directory is prepared by GPO under the direction of the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP). More than just a guide to Members, committees, and officials of the 115th Congress, the Congressional Directory is the only document issued by Congress that shows the overall organization of the two chambers and their committees, offices, and support organizations. The Directory includes historical statistics, information on the Capitol buildings and grounds, and a guide to the other agencies of the Legislative Branch. In addition, the Congressional Directory provides information on the departments and agencies of the Executive Branch, the U.S. Courts, international organizations, foreign diplomatic offices in the United States, and members of the congressional press, radio, and television galleries.”
PCWorld: “Choosing the right virtual private network (VPN) service is no simple task. A VPN should keep your internet usage private and secure, but not every service handles your data in the same way. Just look at the critiques of notable computer security experts and online pundits to understand the challenge. (Want to know more about VPNs and what they can and can’t do? Skip down to our “What is a VPN?” section.)…” Good article, good reviews and recommendations.
Axios: “West Virginia’s Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who’s currently running for U.S. Senate, announced Tuesday that he’s partnering with two local community and technical colleges to connect senior citizens with college students for free cybersecurity training. Why it matters: Criminals steal $37 billion a year from elderly Americans through cyber scams, according to Bloomberg. This program will help senior citizens learn to boost password security, recognize and avoid clicking on malicious links and warn them against downloading malware, among other best practices. Seniors in need of the unit’s expertise should call the hotline at 304-558-1155 or visit HelpForSeniors@wvago.gov.”
“At least dozens of people have received an email from Google informing them that the internet giant responded to a request from the FBI demanding the release of user data, according to several people who claimed to have received the email. The email did not specify whether Google released the requested data to the FBI. The unusual notice appears to be related to the case of Colton Grubbs, one of the creators of LuminosityLink, a $40 remote access tool (or RAT), that was marketed to hack and control computers remotely. Grubs pleaded guilty last year to creating and distributing the hacking tool to hundreds of people. Several people on Reddit, Twitter, and on HackForums, a popular forum where criminals and cybersecurity enthusiast discuss and sometimes share hacking tools, reported receiving the email…”
“Google received and responded to legal process issue by Federal Bureau of Investigation (Eastern District of Kentucky) compelling the release of information related to your Google account,” the email read, according to multiple reports from people who claimed to have received it. The email included a legal process number. When Motherboard searched for it within PACER, the US government’s database for court cases documents, it showed that it was part of a case that’s still under seal…”
Yes – this is true – I have my plants in the hallways – which perks up the otherwise empty space and, but leaves me alone in the dark. I brought a number of them home recently and set them outside, and they are much happier. And as we all know, if you are looking at your garden when you are working, and have your animal companions with you, these factors also contribute to satisfaction within the “remote workplace.”
Harvard Business Review: “The news headlines about what perks or elements of office design make for a great employee experience seem to be dominated by fads — think treadmill desks, nap pods, and “bring your dog to work day” for starters. However, a new survey by my HR advisory firm Future Workplace called “The Employee Experience” reveals the reality is that employees crave something far more fundamental and essential to human needs. In a research poll of 1,614 North American employees, we found that access to natural light and views of the outdoors are the number one attribute of the workplace environment, outranking stalwarts like onsite cafeterias, fitness centers, and premium perks including on-site childcare (only 4-8% of FORTUNE 100 companies offer on-site child care). The study also found that the absence of natural light and outdoor views hurts the employee experience. Over a third of employees feel that they don’t get enough natural light in their workspace. 47% of employees admit they feel tired or very tired from the absence of natural light or a window at their office, and 43% report feeling gloomy because of the lack of light. These findings support a larger trend of the growing importance of employee wellbeing. According to Gallup’s most recent iteration of the State of the American Workplace, more than half of employees report better overall well-being as “very important” to them. In the same survey, work-life balance and overall well-being were determined to be the second most important factor when choosing to work for an organization. When employees are fulfilled in all aspects of their well-being, this leads to increased employee engagement and and increases individual performance…”
Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication (Vol. 6, No. 2): The Role of Scholarly Communication in a Democratic Society was published online today (August 31, 2018).
“Why has the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication produced this special issue on the role of scholarly communication and democracy? The pillars of a democratic society (equity, a free press, fair elections, engaged citizens, and the equal application of laws) are directly impacted by the availability, accessibility, and accuracy of information. Additionally, engaged, critically thinking individuals require an understanding of how knowledge is produced and shared, who has the power to make that information available, and how they—as information consumers and producers—are involved in those processes. Proposed and adopted government policies and actions that limit transparency and engagement, the increasing commodification of learning, the framing of education as a measure of return on investment (ROI) in real dollars, and the rapid transition of the research landscape to an increasingly monopolized walled garden have been in motion for some time but come into sharp focus through the lens of scholarly communication. Scholarly communication is a broad domain that covers how information and knowledge are created and shared, what levels of access to that information are available, and how economic factors influence information communication. This system affects both the production and consumption of information and knowledge. As such, the question of democratic or equitable processes is internal (Is the scholarly communication domain democratic and equitable?) and external (How does scholarly communication affect a democratic society?). The scholarly communication and research landscapes have never been level playing fields for all interested parties. Funding constraints, prejudices, and politics have all been factors in the amplification and suppression of people’s perspectives. In this special issue, I wanted to investigate how librarians and other information professionals are interrogating those practices and situating their scholarly communication work within the frame of an equitable and democratic society. What are the challenges and the opportunities? Where are we making progress? Where is there disenfranchisement?…”
fedscoop: “The Government Publishing Office (GPO) is tasked with “Keeping America Informed,” which practically means that the agency, through various channels, provides free public access to all the official publications of the federal government. In the days before the internet, this mandate was a lot easier to keep track of. In a recently released report, the Library of Congress’ Federal Research Division (FRD) explores how federal agencies tend to publish information these days (spoiler alert: online) and how the GPO can do a better job keeping tabs on official government documents in the information age. “The identification and acquisition of content are substantially more complex undertakings in the digital age as compared to the ink-on-paper era,” the report states. Before the web, agencies often approached GPO for publishing services, which made it easy for the agency’s Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) to collect information on publications. More recently, however, “the onset of direct-to-web publishing, together with the diminishing share of publications in print, weakened the link between Federal publishing and the deposit of documents for FDLP distribution.” This situation leads to the existence of so-called “fugitive documents” — documents that fall within the FDLP’s purview but have not been collected or documented. “Digital fugitives,” the report states, “result from the tremendous volume of digital content being produced, the diversity of formats being used to create information products, the inconsistency of website designs across the Government, and Federal agencies’ failure to notify the Superintendent of Documents of newly released information products…” [h/t pete Weiss]
Washington Post – “Cursive in all its flowing permutations — the opal-shaped calligraphy of Spencerian, the simplified and precise Palmer Method; the spare D’Nealian, distinguished by its saucy “monkey tails”; the stolid and reliable Zaner-Bloser — was once a staple of American elementary education. In the classroom pantheon of Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, cursive was the writing. In recent decades, cursive was declared moribund, if not dead, after it was shredded from the Common Core in most states, including Connecticut. Typewriters, copiers, computers, phones, a veritable “Murder on the Orient Express” of culprits, had conspired to kill it. By the mid-aughts, only 15 percent of SAT essays were submitted in script. Today, many adults utilize a mash-up of cursive and print that often can be deciphered only by the author. Brigid Guertin, executive director of the Danbury Museum & Historical Society, has struggled to find interns capable of deciphering the sepia-tinted documents of their city’s handwritten past. “The majority of our assets are in cursive and not transcribed,” she said. So three years ago she launched cursive camp, in hopes of training tomorrow’s interns today. Surprisingly, children and parents flocked to it….”
Atlas Obscura: “In the summer of 1980, Robert Kindred was a 35-year-old high school dropout with no plans of going to college. Despite that, scattered in the backseat of his newly leased Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham were half a dozen guides to American college and university locations, each representing a region of the United States. He also had a single volume covering the entire country in his briefcase. A former Boy Scout, he liked to be prepared. No major American crime requires as much travelling as that of stealing rare books from libraries, a fact Kindred knew from experience. Thanks to wealthy Americans, poor Europeans, two hot wars, and one cold one, the fruits of 500 years of printing came to be scattered across the United States in the second half of the 20th century. And almost all of it could be found on the shelves of some college or university library. Kindred’s capture, and his subsequent prosecution, led to the creation of one more reference source, this one unique: a catalog of the stolen items he kept in the car trunk. Two librarians from the University of Illinois spent the rest of the summer of 1980 in a cramped room in the campus police station trying to make sense of the thousands of loose prints piled and packed in bags and boxes. Before web browsers and online catalogs—and without even access to a telephone to call other libraries—the two men mostly used their bibliographic instincts and a few reference sources to reverse engineer Kindred’s trip and identify the owners of some of the pieces. Alas, all of their work amounted to nearly nothing. It aided the return of some of the prints to their rightful owners, but the state’s attorney did not use it at all. Kindred pleaded guilty to a single charge in Champaign County, and was sentenced to probation. Green was not prosecuted in Illinois at all, and neither man was prosecuted by any other state, including Texas, where they did the most damage…”
Knowledge@Wharton: “Sweden is regarded as the poster child of cashless countries and is expected to become the world’s first cashless society by March 2023. This means that cash will not be a generally accepted means of payment in Sweden. This journey has been powered by various factors such as a robust card payment system, strong internet infrastructure, a popular mobile payment app, supportive legal framework and a cultural mistrust of cash Jonas Hedman, associate professor at the department of digitalization at the Copenhagen Business School, believes that becoming cashless is inevitable, not just for Sweden, but for other countries as well. In a conversation with Knowledge@Wharton, Hedman talks about Sweden’s journey to becoming a cashless society, its implications for the rest of the world and lessons that can be learned. Knowledge@Wharton produced this interview in collaboration with the SWIFT Institute. This is an edited transcript of the conversation…”
This Colorful New Font Is Made Entirely of Brand Logos – The typeface of choice for the late-stage capitalist: “Creatives at digital agency Hello Velocity have developed Brand New Roman, a font comprised of 76 corporate brand logos. The Idiocracy-style project is partly parody, but you can actually download the font and use it—and artists have already been playing around with it, too. Lukas Bentel, partner and creative director at Hello Velocity, tells Muse that the driving idea behind Brand New Roman was simple: “This stage of capitalism is pretty weird. Seems like a good time to spoof it!” The font is pretty overwhelming when all the original colors of the logos are used…”
“It should come as no surprise that recent advances in big-data analytics and artificial intelligence have created strong incentives for enterprises to amass information about every measurable aspect of their businesses. And financial regulations now require organizations to keep records for much longer periods than they had to in the past. So companies and institutions of all stripes are holding onto more and more. Studies show [PDF] that the amount of data being recorded is increasing at 30 to 40 percent per year. At the same time, the capacity of modern hard drives, which are used to store most of this, is increasing at less than half that rate. Fortunately, much of this information doesn’t need to be accessed instantly. And for such things, magnetic tape is the perfect solution. Seriously? Tape? The very idea may evoke images of reels rotating fitfully next to a bulky mainframe in an old movie like Desk Set or Dr. Strangelove. So, a quick reality check: Tape has never gone away! Indeed, much of the world’s data is still kept on tape, including data for basic science, such as particle physics and radio astronomy, human heritage and national archives, major motion pictures, banking, insurance, oil exploration, and more. There is even a cadre of people (including me, trained in materials science, engineering, or physics) whose job it is to keep improving tape storage…”
Visualizing Data in 3D – “Microsoft has published a free data visualization tool called Charts 3D that allows PC and Surface Hub users to create 3D visualizations of multi-axis data without knowing how to code. After users import datasets, Charts 3D generates an interactive graphic, such as a geospatial plot, scatter plot, or line graph. Users can filter their data, switch between 3D and 2D, and alter the visualizations using voice commands.”
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication released their 2018 Climate Opinion Maps last month (August 2018). Users may create queries that will deliver results specific to “how Americans’ climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, and policy support vary at the state, congressional district, metro area, and county levels.” “…Public opinion estimates are produced using a statistical model based on national survey data (n > 22,000) gathered between 2008 and 2018 by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication.”
Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate Issued on: August 30, 2018: “I am transmitting an alternative plan for pay adjustments for civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems in January 2019. Title 5, United States Code, authorizes me to implement alternative plans for pay adjustments for civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems if, because of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare,” I view the increases that would otherwise take effect as inappropriate. Under current law, locality pay increases averaging 25.70 percent, costing $25 billion, would go into effect in January 2019, in addition to a 2.1 percent across-the-board increase for the base General Schedule. We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases. Accordingly, I have determined that it is appropriate to exercise my authority to set alternative across-the-board and locality pay adjustments for 2019 pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 5303(b) and 5304a. Specifically, I have determined that for 2019, both across‑the‑board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero. These alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce. As noted in my Budget for Fiscal Year 2019, the cost of employing the Federal workforce is significant. In light of our Nation’s fiscal situation, Federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets. Across-the-board pay increases and locality pay increases, in particular, have long-term fixed costs, yet fail to address existing pay disparities or target mission critical recruitment and retention goals. The adjustments described above shall take effect on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2019.”
Explore Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook: Codex Forster I – “Famous worldwide as the painter of such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) is also renowned for his notebooks in which he recorded his thoughts and inventions. Five of these fascinating notebooks, bound into three small volumes, have been in our collection since 1876 when they were bequeathed to the Museum by John Forster. Collectively known as Codex Forster, they date from about 1487 to 1505 and reflect Leonardo’s highly inquisitive mind. Codex Forster I contains both the earliest notebook we hold (from folio 41, about 1487 – 90, Milan) and the latest (up to folio 40, 1505, Florence). Written in Leonardo’s famous ‘mirror-writing’, the subjects explored within range from hydraulic engineering to a treatise on measuring solids…”
Bloomerg – Giving Every Part of the World an Address – “A London-based mapping startup called What3Words has developed an address system for the entire world that uses combinations of 3 words for each location. Traditional address systems can be confusing and vary substantially between countries, and developing countries may lack these systems entirely, posing challenges for businesses, mail systems, and emergency services. What3Words assigns randomized 3 word combinations, such as “lakefront.boundless.vitals,” to every 3 square meter block in the world, approximately 57 trillion squares in all.”
Kaiser Family Foundation : Mapping Pre-existing Conditions across the U.S. – Rachel Fehr, Anthony Damico, Larry Levitt Follow @larry_levitt on Twitter , Gary Claxton, Cynthia Cox Follow @cynthiaccox on Twitter , and Karen Pollitz – Published: Aug 28, 2018: “The future of protections for people with pre-existing conditions has once again become a focus of debate following recent legal and policy developments. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contained a number of new rules related to pre-existing conditions, including:
- Guaranteed access to insurance in the individual market regardless of health. Previously, insurers typically used medical underwriting to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and also excluded coverage of any pre-existing conditions for people who were accepted.
- Community rating in the individual and small business markets, prohibiting insurers from varying premiums based on people’s health, which was common before the ACA.
- Required coverage of essential benefits. Prior to the ACA, insurers in the individual market often excluded coverage of maternity, mental health, and substance abuse.
Congressional efforts to repeal and replace the ACA during 2017 would have weakened these protections. For example, the bill passed by the House would have allowed states to alter the essential benefit requirement and waive community rating for people with gaps in coverage. The so-called Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill drafted in the Senate would have allowed states to determine what factors insurers could use in setting rates, except for gender and genetic information, and also let states change the essential benefits. While those repeal efforts failed, changes pursued by the Trump administration through regulation and the courts have implications for people with pre-existing conditions…Polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) finds that 64% of the public does not want the Supreme Court to overturn the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and that continuing those protections tops the list of health issues registered voters say they’ll consider in supporting candidates as the midterm election approaches.
We previously estimated using 2015 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 27% of adults age 18-64 (52 million people) have a pre-existing condition that would have led to a denial of insurance in the individual market before the ACA. A larger share of nonelderly women (30%) than men (24%) have declinable preexisting conditions. The share of people with pre-existing conditions also varies by age, ranging from 15% for 18-24 year-olds to 47% for 60-64 year-olds.