Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's that time of the year...

Bryan Garner's LawProse.org Blog is a great source of writing advice. You can subscribe and get a daily email with some useful info that will improve your writing. With the end of the semester coming, you'll likely be in paper writing mode soon if not already. Garner's posts will help you write with less frustration and fewer mistakes. Here is a sample post.

Lesson #144:
Less vs. fewer
     Use fewer when referring to individual or countable things {fewer than ten chairs} {fewer questions asked by judges}. Use less when referring to volume, quantity, or degree {less influence on the jurors}, mass or bulk nouns {less water in the glass}, or units of measure or time {less than three ounces} {less than five months}.

     There is one exception: use less when count nouns are really being used as amounts instead of individual increments {he has less than one million dollars} {we have less than two minutes of rebuttal time}.

     Sometimes it can be a close call whether something is a mass noun or a count noun. Take, for example, a percentage: should it be less than 10% of the shareholders voted or fewer than 10% of the shareholders voted? A percentage could be something counted or a collective mass noun like money. I preferless than 10% of the shareholders because most percentages aren't whole numbers anyway, and lessis less formal in tone than fewer.

     One more point: it's redundant to say *a fewer number because the idea of number is included in the meaning of fewer (a smaller number) {*a fewer numberof managers}. Say a smaller number when referring to numbers specifically; otherwise, prefer fewer (standing alone) {fewer managers}. That uses fewer words -- and less space.

     Countables take fewer {fewer people} {fewer delegates} {fewer documents}. But compare "fewer than six pennies in my pocket" with "less than six cents in my pocket." Pennies are distinct things, butsix cents denotes an amount.

     Noncountable mass nouns take less {less power} {less documentation} {less than 50 years ago} {less than $100 in his wallet} {less of a burden}.

     You'll usually find it easy to apply these rules. You'll make fewer mistakes and commit them less often.


  • Garner's Modern American Usage 351, 507-08  (3d ed. 2009).
  • Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage 359, 538  (3d ed. 2011).
  • The Chicago Manual of Style § 5.220, at 288,  (16th ed. 2010).
  • The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style § 12.3, at 277 (3d ed. 2013).
  • The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law 106 (2013).
  • Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage: A Guide 150-51 (Barzun ed. 1966).
  • R.W. Burchfield, The New Fowler's Modern English Usage 294-95 (3d ed. 1996).

Monday, November 25, 2013

Computation, Journalism and the Future of News Panel Discussion

Here's an interesting event at Stanford that may be of interest, with folks from Stanford's journalism and computer science departments along with the inventor of Google News talking about the future of journalism:

Computation, Journalism and the Future of News Panel Discussion

A panel discussion featuring:
  • Jure Leskovec, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, Stanford
  • Krishna Bahrat, Distinguished Research Scientist, Google, Inc.; Founder, Google News
  • Jennifer LaFleur, Senior Editor, Data, Center for Investigative Reporting
  • James T. Hamilton, Hearst Professor of Communication; Director, Journalism Program, Stanford
Introductory remarks by Brown Institute Director, Prof. Bernd Girod, and moderated by Brown Institute Assoc. Director, Prof. Ann Grimes.  Sponsored by the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation and the Jordan S. Knight Fellowship Program.
When:Tuesday, December 3, 20134:15 PM.  Reception to follow.
Where:Clark Auditorium, Clark Center, 318 Campus Drive, Stanford, CA (Reception to follow in the Nexus Cafe) (Map)
Sponsor:Sponsored by the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation and the Jordan S. Knight Fellowship Program.
Admission:Event is open to the public, but for logistical planning the organizers please request a RSVP via http://bit.ly/1gOy1Nz

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mills Students Use Cartographic Skills to Aid Typhoon Recovery Effort

Crowd Source Mapping at Mills
Fifteen Mills College students spent part of Tuesday afternoon lending a hand to the post-typhoon recovery effort in the Philippines, but they never left campus. They were not holding a food drive or collecting donations; they were making maps. 

Using a tool called "Open Street Maps" they were transferring data from aerial photographs to a mapping database that can be accessed by workers on the ground in areas devastated by the recent typhoon. By the end of the afternoon they had contributed hundreds of new features to the OpenStreetMaps database.

The "Task Manager"
OpenStreetMap is a sort of Wikipedia for geospatial information - the stuff we see on maps from roads and rivers to building footprints and utility lines. It is a software platform that makes it possible for people anywhere in the world to update the maps with data from their GPS devices or from doing field work by walking around their neighborhood and then makes it possible for anyone else in the world to access that data. 

In response to the typhoon, OpenStreetMap contributors created a wiki page that provides access to existing maps and tools and they use a tool called the "Task Manager" to identify needed mapping work. Volunteers log in and are given a task such as trace all the roads or building outlines in a village from aerial photography. They're shown a grid map that indicates what's already been done and what task is next. The software keeps track of who is working on what, which areas are ready to be checked over by other volunteers, and which areas are highest priorities.

Map Edits by Mills Student NM
The Mills students have learned how to contribute to OpenStreetMap as a part of their work in a sociology class with an unwieldy name: "Geographic Information Systems and Sociological Geography." One of the themes of the class is the use of and contribution to open source projects like OpenStreetMap. Rather than the expensive software usually used in courses like this, the Mills class makes use of Quantum GIS an open source software project built by a team of programmers from around the world.

Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Typhoon Yolanda, struck the central Philippines on November 8. Its sustained winds of up to 195 mph with gusts of 235 mph have been called the worst weather event ever recorded. At this writing the death toll is reported to be over 2,000 with the destruction from wind, floods, and ocean waves including entire towns.

The OpenStreetMap project is one of many "crowd sourced mapping" efforts. Others include Ushahidi,  Sahana, CrisisMappersGoogle.orgINSTEDD. The UN even organized an international meeting "Crowdsource Mapping for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response" held in Vienna in 2012. Crowd-sourced mapping is an example of "peer production" or "mass collaboration" in which software platforms permit people around the world to cooperate to produce a joint product.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

FULLY FUNDED CONFERENCE at Harvard's Kennedy School


Public Policy and Leadership Conference

What is the Public Policy and Leadership Conference?
The Public Policy and Leadership Conference (PPLC) is designed to inform students about careers in the public sector. The conference will encourage students who possess a commitment to public service to prepare for graduate study in public policy and international affairs, as well as to provide information on financial support through various fellowship programs.

Why Attend PPLC?
Harvard Kennedy School will be offering its fourteenth annual spring conference for first and second year undergraduate college students who are interested in pursuing professional careers in public service. These include careers in federal, state or local government, and work in the nonprofit sector or in international agencies. Our goal is also to provide information on various fellowship opportunities. To find out more about individual fellowships, please visit our resources page.

Who Attends PPLC? The conference aims to attract students from groups under-represented in public policy and international affairs in an effort to increase the diversity of students receiving these professional degrees. The conference will help prepare future leaders for study in public policy, particularly those from historically under-served communities and people of color. Participants receive paid travel, accommodations, and meals. Please note that the conference is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents in their first or second year of undergraduate studies only.

Selection Criteria
Conference participants will be selected based on good academic standing, as well as demonstrated commitment to public service. Commitment to public service will be measured through student leadership and activism, participation in the civic aspects of school or community, and volunteer commitments in high school and college. Please include this information on your resume.

Learn More

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tutoring High School Kids for Cash


PAID Internship Opportunity: Apply to be a mentor with CollegeSpring

CollegeSpring works with low-income high school students in the Bay Area and Los Angeles by providing SAT prep and college counseling services. We are searching for dynamic college undergraduates who will join our team as Mentors for the 2014 Spring Semester. As a member o fCollegeSpring's staff, you will develop teaching and leadership skills, meet talented undergraduates, and make higher education a reality for high school students with low-income backgrounds. If you want to make a direct impact in the lives of high school students, you might be the person we're looking for!

To apply, Mentors and Interns must submit a resume and application on our website,www.collegespring.org by: 

 Friday November 8th 2013

Mentor responsibilities include: 
  • Lead groups of 3-5 students in SAT Writing, Critical Reading and Math tutoring
  • Guide students through the college admissions process
  • Collect and use student data to better improve students' SAT Reasoning scores
  • Collaborate with other undergraduate mentors and the professional teachers on site
  • Act as a role model for CollegeSpring high school students
  • Must be available for the entire spring semester (January-April) AND one week of training 
  • Must pass criminal background check and TB test
Time Commitment & Compensation:
  • Mentors are expected to commit 4 hours a week for fifteen weeks
  • Mentors receive $10/hour
  • Mentors are compensated for drive/travel costs