Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pseudoscience - making reasonable people believe in quackery

Recently, many of my friends and acquaintances have been posting so much pseudo-scientific info on Facebook that I feel the need to post links to reputable sources debunking these mythical “cures” and “remedies.” 

Pseudoscience is defined by the National Science Foundation as "claims presented so that they appear [to be] scientific even though they lack supporting evidence and plausibility" (Shermer 1997, p. 33). In contrast, science is "a set of methods designed to describe and interpret observed and inferred phenomena, past or present, and aimed at building a testable body of knowledge open to rejection or confirmation" (Shermer 1997, p. 17).

Anecdotal evidence, i.e. “It worked for my mom!”  “I tried everything, but this was the only thing that worked.” is not scientific proof.  If it hasn't been shown to be effective in scientific studies, then it isn't proven.

Much of this “evidence” comes from the Placebo or Nocebo effect.  Some people are very prone to suggestion.  If I give a group of people plain purified-water and call it medicine then tell them, “this will improve memory, give you extra energy, and make your hair and nails stronger,” some people will report experiencing those effects and spend lots of money to get more of this “miracle” substance.  If I give another group the same plain water, call it medicine, and tell them, “side effects include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea,” some people will develop those side effects.  Most people will probably experience neither a “cure” nor a side effect, but if they hear the rest of the group saying it worked for them, they are likely to report that they saw some improvement or side effect as well.  The water isn't actually doing ANY of those things; it’s all in those people’s minds.  This effect has been proven via scientific method many times.  Suggestion is a powerful thing. 

Here are the pseudoscience topics that I see posted again and again that are driving me crazy!  These articles do a good job of supporting their claims based on actual research and study.

Amber teething necklaces:

Essential Oils/Aromatherapy:


Chiropractic Care:

So what pseudoscience topics drive you crazy?  Have you been taken-in by some pseudoscience claims and then been embarrassed to realize it was false?  I was almost on-board with the amber teething necklaces, it seemed plausible until I started researching it.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

IRLS 571 - Abrahamsen - Assignment 5

This blog post is an assignment for my library school class

To anyone who still subscribes to this via RSS, e-mail, or Google friend connect - please ignore this post.  Thanks! - Sydni

Integrated Library Systems


Integrated library systems (ILS's) are electronic database systems that contain the data that allows a library to function.  They are the brain and the heart of the library. The ILS generally includes patron records, bibliographic records, item records, and more.  It is the back-end of the online catalog as well as the application used to catalog new items, do the circulation tasks (checking in and out), managing course reserves, and more.  Some ILS's can also send automated messages to patrons, handle room bookings, create purchase orders, and more.

How it is used in a library

The ILS is used in many ways within the library.  The patrons use it when they use the OPAC interface. Library staff use various modules within the ILS application to accomplish different tasks.  Some useful modules (which can be called different things in different ILS systems) are Circulation, Acquisitions, Serials Management, Bookings, the OPAC, and Reports.  There are many other possible modules that may be part of an ILS system.  The staff who work the circulation desk, the staff who receive serial subscriptions, and the staff who do original cataloging may see completely separate interfaces with different options and levels of access all within the same application.

Expected social impact

The social impact of ILS's is huge for librarians and library staff.  The fact that so many different library functions can all be accomplished within a single system is huge.  All the library records are shared and it cuts down on all the duplication that existed back in the days of card catalogs and punch cards.  The ILS makes it easier to search for records, pull data from the records, and manipulate it.

Online Public Access Catalogs (OPAC's)


Catalogs are finding aids - systems designed to help librarians and users locate items.  For decades, the data (titles, authors, subject term, etc.) was primarily recorded on index cards and filed in large cabinets called card catalogs.  MARC records (Machine Readable Cataloging records) made that data electronic, so electronic catalogs developed.  These were usually a text-based database that was searchable from catalog computers at the library.  When the World Wide Web took off in the mid-1990s, commercial search engines like Yahoo and AOL made it much easier to use keywords to search for items without knowing the LC Subject Headings.  This changed the way catalogs were used in the library setting.

How it is used in a library

OPAC's are used in libraries as a way for users to find items the library owns.  The newer versions are much more sophisticated than the first electronic catalogs.  Most now include keyword searching, relevancy ranking, multi-leveled searching, and suggested topics or cross-references.  Other features may include images, links to previews of the item (or the full item if available electronically), and other added content about the item.

Expected social impact

The social impact of OPAC's is significant when it comes to information seeking behavior.  The electronic system can spell-check, cross-reference, and make suggestions in a matter of seconds - something that took considerable time and effort in the era of card catalogs.  Many OPAC's allow users to save selected records in a file - which lends itself to berry picking strategy.  OPAC's also improve access by allowing users to search the catalog from anywhere they have an Internet connection.  Many libraries also allow users to place holds through the OPAC, so the items are pulled and ready to pick-up when they arrive at the library.  Some libraries will even mail items to distance users - dramatically increasing access for people unable to visit the physical library.
An old video explaining the "Get it @ ASU" system at ASU

Open URL resolvers


Open URL is a standard format of URL (uniform resource locator) that makes it easier to link to information.  Rather than searching through a variety of sources, the Open URL resolver - sometimes called a link resolver- takes the user to a page that shows the availability of that resource at the institution being searched.

How it is used in a library

 Here is an example of how Open URL resolvers are used in libraries: a patron has an article citation and they want to locate the full-text of the article.  They could use the library's 'journal title search', then go to the year, volume, issue, and page they want.  This would take many click-throughs.  They could also try searching for the article title in various databases, hoping they find one that indexes that journal - this is a very ineffective way to find something.  The best way is to use an Open URL resolver - where you simply input the data you are looking for and are taken directly to the resource.

Expected social impact

Open URL resolvers used to be ineffectual and were often hidden on the library page so only a very experienced use could find them.  They are now built-in, integral parts of the library OPAC like U of A's "Article Linker" and ASU's "Get it @ ASU" features.  These resolvers have expanded and refined their methods of searching through a libraries holdings - making it much easier for users to see if their library subscribes to the content they are looking for.  They are wonderful tools when it comes to information seeking behavior because they simplify the process.  The link resolver combs through the databases for the user, so they just have to click a single link to get to their resource.



Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, is a blend of micro-chip and radio-frequency technology.  The small tag can be placed anywhere in an item and can be scanned with radio waves, unlike barcode labels that require line-of-sight to be read.  It was developed to distinguish between friendly and enemy planes in WWII, and has been used in many different applications since.

How it is used in a library

RFID tagging is very useful for libraries.  In addition to being easier to scan than barcodes, it eliminates the need for an additional anti-theft device to be placed in each book.  Patrons can check-out a whole pile of books at once, rather than one at a time, and all are de-sensitized simultaneously as well.  Items can be automatically checked-in and sorted for shelving when returned in the book drop.  And library staff can use a hand-held wand to scan the shelves for missing or mis-shelved items.  For this feature alone, I would love to have RFID at my library.

Expected social impact

The advantages of RFID tags lead to increased speed and efficiency in library processes.  It streamlines the check-out and check-in procedures to minimize the amount of human effort needed.  This frees up library staff to work on tasks that require higher thinking and reasoning skills.  It can also make inventory and shelf-reading a do-able task for large libraries where it is currently an impossible dream.

Select one technology that will most improve libraries for the librarians and one that will most improve libraries for the patrons. Justify your selections.

The technology that will most improve libraries for librarians is definitely the Integrated Library System (ILS).  ILS's have automated and consolidated processes that used to be tedious and time consuming.  Their integration of circulation and technical services functions has cut down greatly on duplication of effort and made many library processes faster, easier, and less error-prone.  I began working at ASU libraries in 2003 when we still used Innovative Interfaces, Inc. (III)'s text-based ILS.  Then we switched to III Millennium, and more recently to III Sierra.  The switch from the text-based to the graphical user interface made things so much easier and cut the learning curve way down.

The technology that will most improve libraries for patrons is a part of the ILS, the OPAC.  The advanced options available on today's OPAC's, including Open URL resolvers, cross-referencing, and other features have vastly improved the search process for patrons.  OPAC's are continually evolving and improving.  Linking out to Amazon, Google Book, or publisher previews is one example of a way that OPAC's are using added content to improve the search process for patrons - allowing them to get a better idea of the content of the book before they decide to request it or search for it.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

New Year

Happy New Year!  My resolution this year is to read 12 books - in their entirety.  I have a habit of starting books then forgetting about them.

On my list so far:
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (possibly the 2 sequels if I like it)
The Master and the Margarita  by Mikhail Bulgakov (I've heard Daniel Radcliffe rave about this one enough)
The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris (at least the 1st one, maybe more)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I've never read any Austen, so I figure I'll give it a go)

Some things I read last year that I highly recommend:
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (I love dystopian future novels)
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw (okay I only read half of it, but I really enjoyed what I read, I plan to check it out from the library and finish it) 

So I'm taking recommendations!  Is there anything you've read that you'd recommend?  Classics, popular fiction, non-fiction, anything? 

My preferences lean towards young adult novels, mysteries, and dystopian future stories.

Some of my all time favorite books are:
The Harry Potter series
The Little House on Prairie Series
Lord of the Flies
The Wizard of Oz Series
The Anne of Green Gables series
The Stephanie Plum Numbers books by Janet Evanovich

Sunday, July 03, 2011

A song that has made me cry

I'm not much of a crier, this one from Disney's Dumbo always chokes me up a little, but I remember being 8-years-old and my mom telling me the story behind Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven and then hearing it later, listening to the lyrics, and trying to hide the fact that I was crying.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Song I can't stand

I skipped the 3rd song in the list - something reminding you of your first crush I think?  I couldn't think of anything right off the bat and then I forgot about it. 

For this one, I had a few excellent options.  Should I choose something by Nickelback or Creed (too obvious), U2 (too hard to pin it down to a specifically irritating song), wait a minute...Nirvana!  Yes.  Perfect.

Prepare to rage at me for my inability to understand the complexity and depth of the music of my generation.

I love 80's music and I love 1997-present music.  There is a bleak, depressing period in between filled with Pearl Jam, Bush, Dave Matthews, and other "alternative" artists that all my friends and classmates were/are so obsessed with.  The seminal artists of that time, Nirvana, are supposed to be musical geniuses who revolutionized the industry, destroyed the hedonistic excesses of 80's rock and made music more "real." 

Thanks, Kurt Cobain!<\sarcasm>

Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit" is a crappy, annoying song and I can't stand listening to it.

You may commence burning me at the stake.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Song of Summertime

Woo hoo!  Daphne and Anali have posted their summertime songs, so I guess it is my turn!

They both chose songs that represent a specific summer for them.  I could do that and it would be 1997, Hanson's MMMBop, which has had more impact on my life than any other song period.  I'm saving that one in case I need to use it in a later post. :)

As it happens, I have an affinity for summer-themed songs.  My sister, Jess, and I had a cassette tape with a bunch of summer songs that we listened to frequently as kids.  I made an ultimate summer playlist a few years ago that has all of my favorite summertime songs on it:

School's Out - Alice Cooper
Summer in the City - Lovin' Spoonful
Hot Child in the City - Nick Gilder
Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams
Boys of Summer - Don Henley
Summergirls - LFO
Summer Breeze - Seals and Crofts
Summertime- Billie Holiday; Louis Armstrong
Summer Nights - Grease Soundtrack
In the Summertime - Mungo Jerry
Cruel Summer - Bananarama
Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffet
Put the Lime in the Coconut - Harry Nilsson
Summertime - DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
Hot Fun in the Summertime - Sly and the Family Stone
Holiday - Madonna
Vacation - The Go-Go's
Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
Walking on Sunshine  - Katrina and the Waves

Choosing one is difficult, but I'm going to go with Katrina and the Waves' 1985 hit, Walking on Sunshine.  That song always reminds me of summertime and the wonderfully worry-free simplicity of childhood summers.

I had never seen this video before and I'm a bit depressed by how cold and depressing it is!  Where's the freaking sunshine?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Songs of my life

Jumping on the bandwagon with Daphne and Anali, I will be posting about songs that have impacted my life.  The first is a song from my childhood.  I come from a very musical family; the radio or MTV were often playing in the background in many of my early memories.  My mom sang along with radio continuously whenever we were in the car.  In fact, I didn't know there were grown-ups who didn't do that until we joined the neighborhood carpool and a neighbor boy asked why my mom was always singing.

The record that had the most impact on my childhood was Michael Jackson's Bad.  Released just after my 4th birthday in 1987, this was one of the first albums my family purchased on CD (though we probably bought it sometime in 1988).  Without a lot of choices to show off the amazing sound quality of this new-fangled technology, this got played often and loudly.  My younger sister, who was still learning to speak, called him "Uncle" Jackson.  My favorite song was the title track, Bad.  We loved to jump around the living room listening to it.  We loved "Uncle" Jackson so much that we rented Michael Jackson Moonwalker repeatedly from the video store rather than getting animated kids movies.

Without further ado, I give you Michael Jackson's Bad.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year Goals

I normally do not make New Year's resolutions for the same reason I do not make Lenten promises or go on diets...I inevitably fail and can't handle the guilt.  However, I have a few small goals that I have been meaning to work towards and hopefully putting them into writing will bring about some measure of accountability.

1. Improve time-management at work.
  • Step 1 - Use MS Outlook calendar to plot my time commitments.
  • Step 2 - Schedule time for the tasks I normally allocate to the mythical "when I get around to it" hour.
  • Step 3 - Write down EVERYTHING!
2.  Read to Erik and Kyle every night / establish bed-time routine
  • Step 1 - Establish a concrete bed-time.
  • Step 2 - Figure out how long it takes to get teeth brushed, jammies on, etc. so we can start getting ready for bed with enough time left to read.
  • Step 3 - Read a book or two then lights out.
  • Step 4 - Move Erik's bed out of our room and into his room.
3.   Establish 529 College Savings Plans for the boys
  • Step 1 - Research the best plans and perks they offer.
  • Step 2 - Move the kids' money from savings accounts into the 529 account.
  • Step 3 - Connect account with my Upromise account to directly deposit those savings into 529.
  • Step 4 - Make contributions to the accounts and get tax deductions.

I have already started on Goal 1 and have got my outlook calendar looking mighty spiffy for this week.  I will have to confer with my husband before doing much with Goals 2 and 3.

So what are your New Year's goals/resolutions?  Do you make them?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Arizona and/or Southwest Coupon Blogs

     It is important to browse deal sites and blogs specific to your region.  There may be specific stores in your area that only have stores in one state or region.  In Arizona these include Fry's, Basha's, Food City, AJ's, Sunflower, and Fresh and Easy.  In addition, even the large chain grocery stores can have very different sales in different regions.  Safeway, Albertson's, and Kroger (the parent company of Fry's) may have different prices and sales in various markets.

     If you make your list based on prices found on a site out of your area, you may end up not saving the amount you thought you would.

     Here is a list of the Arizona and Southwest (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico) blogs I subscribe to in my Google Reader.

     My favorite ones are printed in Pink.  I subscribe to the facebook pages of these as well, so I get the most up-to-the-minute deals.

Arizona Families

Arizona Grocery Guru

Arizona Savings

Arizona Shopping Secrets

Arizona Thrifty Mom

AZ Money Savin' Mama Deals

Bargain Believer

Bargain Moms

Born 2 Save!

Cents'Able Shoppin!

CG Couponista

Clever And Crafty

Coupon Sense

Coupons In Overdrive

Crazy Cheap!

Desert Deals Diva

Janie Girl

Living The Domestic Life

Michelle's Bargains and Freebies

Moms Essential

Saving Cents with Sense

The Coupon Don

The Grocery Queen

     There are probably many more AZ coupon blogs out there, but these are the ones I've found and liked enough to keep on my list so far.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Last chance to buy discounted OPI nail polish?

OPI, one of the biggest names in nail polish, has requested that online retailers (e-tailers) stop selling their polishes at deep discount rates. The company does not sell their polishes on their website or allow the salons who have permission to carry the brand to sell it online either. They are suing the companies that don't comply.

OPI polishes normally retail for about $8.50 in the U.S.  Abroad they cost significantly more.  Several polish e-tailers (8ty8 Beauty, Head 2 Toe Beauty, and Victorias Nail Supply ) have stopped carrying word on what they did with their current stock.

The only e-tailer, that I know of, still carrying OPI, and the one named in the lawsuit, is TransDesign.  They are liquidating their stock, so if you want to get some OPI's for between $4.50 and $5.25 each (more for Designer Series), this may be your last chance.

Here is what OPI's website says on the matter:

Stop Diversion Now!

OPI takes the safety and well-being of our trade and consumer customers very seriously, and has dedicated itself to providing them with the finest Professional Beauty products available today.

That is why OPI is so passionate about fighting diversion.  Diversion is the sale of Professional products outside of Professional beauty channels.  OPI has spent tens of millions of dollars in the fight against diversion, to ensure that our OPI brand professional-use products are used only under the supervision of trained professionals.

OPI brand products are intended for sale in professional beauty (salon) channels.  We sell them to distributors or wholesalers who sell exclusively in those channels.  Those distributors, in turn, sell exclusively to salons. OPI brand products sold outside these channels are improperly obtained and in violation of our agreements and commitments to distributors and salons.  Unfortunately, those diverted products may not be current, or may be improperly and illegally labeled or of inferior quality, or may even be fake or counterfeit.  OPI only guarantees or stands behind products sold through authorized channels.  For OPI brand products, these do not include mass retail channels, the Internet, drug stores, or grocery stores.

Diversion ultimately hurts both salon professionals and salon clients.  In addition, it deprives consumers of the professional care and advice that are necessary to enjoy these professional-use products.

OPI’s efforts to fight diversion include:
  • Agreements with distributors that prohibit the sale of OPI brand products outside professional channels
  • Coding systems to help trace diverted product
  • Pursuing leads that we receive about the unauthorized sale of OPI products
  • Supporting industry-wide anti-diversion efforts
  • A program to track down and take legal and other action against divertors, including the use of private investigators and lawyers
  • A dedicated staff with a toll-free number and email address to record and follow- up on diversion reports
You can help. Should you become aware of what you believe to be diverted OPI brand product, please contact OPI at 800-341.9999 or at  Please provide your name, the name of the store in which you saw what you believe to be diverted product, the address of the store, and the products. 

I think this is ridiculous and is angering a lot of their loyal customers and polish lovers.  Here are a couple of nice posts by polish bloggers with their response to this situation.
The Swatchaholic - Anti-OPI opinion
Carina L'etoile - Pro OPI opinion

In my opinion, this is a total douche-move on OPI's part.  I don't believe their claim that this is about quality is about purchase price control.  They want to force consumers to pay full retail price for their polishes.  If they want us to pay MSRP, they should lower their price because their polishes aren't worth $9.00.