Monday, 21 September 2009

Word of the day

Today's word is an acronym, BOEH, from Dutch Baas Over Eigen Hoofd and in English Boss of My Own Head. According to the Economist this week, it is a Belgian feminist group with mixed Muslim and non-Muslim members. It supports the idea that women should be able to choose what they put on their own heads, or what they don't put on their heads. BOEH has demonstrated the principle in demonstrations, where they put "sieves and toys on their heads." Here's a nice group picture, and some more from Indymedia ("don't hate the media, be the media").

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Poems and Songs

Last week my colleague John Arfield, University Librarian at the University of Western Australia, sent us all a song written about the new UWA Science Library. "To my knowledge" he wrote, gloating, "it's the first song written about a new library building." And as the refrain goes "It sets your inner nerd free, Its the new science library."

On Sunday afternoon John Shipp, at the centenary celebration of the Fisher Library (the University of Sydney), produced not only a wonderful poem about the Fisher Library - Les Murray's Incunabular (1998) - but also the poet himself to read it. Surely the only poem about a university library written by Australia's greatest living poet? And with this memorable comment on the virtual library:
"Others may have my joys at home. Fine.
But I surfed the true paper."

My own library is certainly not jealous of these achievements. Youtube has everything one could wish for including, in the case of Swinburne, Library Pacman, possibly the only live Pacman re-enactment in a university library. It was put together by Swinburne games students. It only has these words: "They're more than games to us too."

The poem about the Fisher Library (an ode to Thomas Fisher) was complemented by the Vice-Chancellor, who described the pleasure of cutting the pages - and discovering the contents - of books which no-one had yet read. I wonder how many more thousands of volumes that no-one has ever read lie awaiting discovery in the University of Sydney library?

Word of the day

One of my favourite expressions is win-win, and the expression was recently used by Bryan Frith in The Australian to describe the Commonwealth Government's recent announcement relating to Telstra. The piece was headed "Reform package a win-win for all but Telstra." But given that Telstra is the major party in the reform package, surely this is a win-lose situation? How can youo have win-win when the major party loses?

The term applies in both game theory and conflict resolution, according to the Wikipedia, and according to the Wictionary, win-win is an adjective. And according to the Wikipedia article, non-zero-sum is a synonym. Brad Spangler, on the Beyond Intractability website, points out that a win-win situation doesn't necessarily involve everyone winning - but everyone believes he has won.

Nevertheless, I think that Telstra lost, making it a win-lose, or possibly a win-loss, to turn the expression into a noun.