Modern scholars are wrestling with a problem that ancient monks and early authors managed to master: how to keep their work accessible to future generations.While the books, papers, and journals of early scientists remain readable to anyone who can lay hands on them and knows the language, and that is not the case for those whose work is stored on early computer media, just a few decades old.The breakneck pace of technology’s advance has left data in its dust, stored on tapes, floppy disks, and other media now unreadable by newer computers. And it’s not just the nature of storage media that is rapidly changing. File formats change as new programs are developed, rendering older programs obsolete even while giving researchers powerful new tools.“Data is not like a book. If you get a 300-year-old book and you know the language, you can usually read it,” said Gary King, the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor and head of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS). “Data changes formats. If it’s from even five years ago, you might not be able to read it at all.”King has watched those changes since he arrived at Harvard in 1987. As head of the Harvard Data Center, then the Harvard-MIT Data Center, and now the institute, King realized long ago that efforts had to be made to ensure access to digital data for future scholars.While publication in academic and scientific journals provides summaries of research, King said those articles are like advertisements for the underlying work, the reams of data gathered during exhaustive social science surveys, years of field observations, and long nights in the lab. Further, he said, today more grant-making agencies and journals require researchers to make their data available to others as a condition of a grant or of publication.“It’s very important in science and social science to share research data,” King said.One solution to the problem already exists, on computers at Harvard and in a growing network of corporations, universities, and other institutions. Called the Dataverse Network Project and spearheaded by the IQSS, the effort provides archival storage for research projects, initially in the social sciences but recently expanding to the physical sciences and humanities.The Dataverse project solves problems that plagued the two most common previous data storage strategies, King said. The first is that researchers sometimes use major archives to hold their data. The problem with that, King said, involves loss of control over the data and, potentially, a loss of credit for gathering it, because the archive is sometimes cited as the source. The second commonly used strategy is to store the data on personal computers or servers, making it available on the Web through a researcher’s Web page. The problem there, King said, is that Web pages don’t endure for long. Researchers change institutions, links are lost, and access to data is gone as well.“The average age of a link on the Web is very short,” King said. “Servers under the desk break or are replaced; the data can disappear.”The Dataverse project is designed to solve both problems, King said. First, the IQSS employs professional archiving standards that ensure access to data long into the future. Once a researcher’s data is put into the system, it is converted from its original file format into a basic one that ensures the information will remain readable for decades to come. When that format becomes obsolete, King said, the system will automatically convert it to a new format, also designed to endure for decades. To guard against loss, the data is backed up on servers at different locations.Instead of being locked away somewhere, the data remains accessible to the researcher through a Web interface designed to look like just another page — holding a list of datasets — on the researcher’s website. Instead of bringing visitors who click on a page to a researcher’s server, though, it links directly to a Dataverse server. The data sets, like the journal articles that result from them, have their own citations so that, if they are used by other scientists, a researcher gets credit for the work.“As a researcher, I don’t need to do anything. It looks like it’s mine, but it’s preserved in the background,” King said.There are Dataverses at several different levels, including the Dataverse Network Project, which has developed and distributed the software; the IQSS’s Dataverse Network, which is the Harvard-centered network, holding the data of Harvard researchers; the Dataverse networks of other institutions; and the Dataverses of individual researchers, which are individual archives from their specific projects and which reside on the networks at specific institutions.Mercè Crosas , director of product development at IQSS, led the development efforts of the Dataverse Network software. She said IQSS currently hosts more than 350 individual researchers’ Dataverses. Those Dataverses hold about 40,000 studies, made up of 665,000 files. Although Dataverse has so far mainly been used by social scientists, Crosas said some groups in the sciences, including the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, are beginning to explore Dataverse options.She expects the size of the files stored there to double in the next five years, as more researchers seek solutions to the problem of storing data into perpetuity. To help that expansion, she said, the Dataverse software is open source, meaning that the code is open to others to download and edit. Among the institutions that have adopted the Dataverse approach are the University of North Carolina, the University of Michigan, and several campuses of the University of California.The software’s open-source nature means that other institutions can have their own programmers add features that can then be shared with the community of users.Of course, preserving anything into perpetuity is a tall order, and King acknowledged that will be a central challenge as people and institutions change. The advantage of a place like Harvard, though, is that it is stable and likely to endure.“You need the community to persist,” King said. “That’s the kind of thing Harvard does best.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a historically high 847,000 last week, a sign that layoffs remain high as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage. The Labor Department said Thursday that last week’s claims were down by 67,000 from 914,000 the week before. Before the virus hit the United States hard last March, weekly applications for jobless aid had never topped 700,000. But the four-week moving average for claims, which smooths out weekly gyrations, rose to the highest level since September. Overall, nearly 4.8 million Americans are continuing to receive traditional state unemployment benefits.
Thursday evening, Dr. Eleonore Stump of Saint Louis University gave the annual Joyce McMahon Hank Aquinas Lecture. Her speech, “The God of the Bible and the God of the Philosophers,” aimed to reconcile the duality seen in the writings of Thomas Aquinas. Katelyn Valley | The Observer Dr. Eleonore Stump presents the annual Joyce McMahon Hank Aquinas lecture Thursday evening at Saint Mary’s. The lecture explored the duality of interpretations of the nature of God, from both a traditional and personable perspective.Stump said that she feels the God of philosophers tends to reflect a view of classical theism, while the God seen in the Hebrew Bible is more human. As an example of this humanistic interpretation of God, she said to turn to the mercy present in the the story of Jonah.“[The Hebrew Bible is] so present to human beings that they know God and they can relate to God in highly personal ways,” Stump said. “You might say that the God portrayed in the Hebrew Bible is very human.”In contrast, Stump said she sees the God of philosophers to be “simple, immutable and eternal,” Stump said these qualities directly contradict the qualities of the God seen in the Hebrew Bible.“The claim that God is immutable has seemed to many philosophers and theologians that God cannot be responsive to human beings … and an immutable God cannot be affected by prayer,” Stump said.Stump’s exploration of “an immutable God,” continued when she said that he must exist outside the boundaries of time, rather than within them.“An eternal God does not exist within time but outside of it,” she said. “An eternal, immutable God cannot do anything after something happens in time. But, such a God can certainly act because something that happens in time.”Stump said she sees the classical view of God being eternal as “something that is outside of time and cannot interact with something inside of time.”“An eternal God cannot engage personally with someone like God is with Jonah in that story,” she said.Stump said she feels Aquinas would respond to the idea of an eternal God by acknowledging that God exists outside of time, but does also interact with people in the present.“Eternity is a mode of existence characterized by the absence of succession and by limitless duration,” Stump said. “God’s life consists in the duration for a present that is not limited by either future or past.”Stump said many argue God’s simplicity in the traditional viewpoint is not compatible with the more human-like interpretations of God.“No human being can know a simple God,” she said. “God is being itself and not a being.”However, Stump also said she believes responsiveness and simplicity do not exist completely separate of each other.“God has free will and creates the world freely, but God does what God does,” Stump said. “It is also the case that God’s simplicity does not by itself rule out God’s responsiveness.”Stump said she wrestles with two questions that address the duality of these Gods.“How is it possible that these [Aquinas and Augustine] and other great thinkers could believe in the God of the Hebrew Bible? And, is it at all possible that the God of classical theism can be the same as the Hebrew Bible,” she said.Stump also said the God of the Hebrew Bible is almost unrecognizable in classical theism.“The God of the Bible looks nothing like the God of classical theism,” Stump said. “How could the God that was so present and attentive to Jonah be the same simple, immutable and eternal God of classical theism?”Stump then said that Aquinas believed the personable God seen in the Hebrew Bible is not in opposition to the God of classical theism, but rather the two interpretations of God are one in the same.“Thomas [Aquinas] accepts both the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the ideas of classical theism,” Stump said. “He believes that simplicity, immutability and eternity are not inconsistent with the Holy Spirit.”Tags: aquinas lecture, Eleonore Stump, Joyce McMahon Hank Aquinas Lecture, Thomas Aquinas
Over the summer, Saint Mary’s seniors Katie Franz and Katie Shaffer began collecting stationary. Their goal? To begin leaving handwritten “love letters” for students to find throughout campus.The letters are a part of a new club called Campus Cursive. The group stems from a larger organization called More Love Letters that allows students to start a chapter of this project at their own school. After being approved by the College and the More Love Letters company, Franz and Shaffer began their mission to promote kindness and positivity within the lives of students through the club. Franz and Shaffer said as seniors, they want to positively impact Saint Mary’s before graduating. As roommates last year, Franz and Shaffer said they used to write “little love notes” to each other throughout the school year. This experience of exchanging words of affirmation inspired them to bring Saint Mary’s its own chapter of Campus Cursive. Franz added that this club complements her major in education. “The creativity in writing letters is really exciting,” she said. “I hope to carry this over into a classroom setting one day. There has been a significant increase in bullying and violence in schools, and that’s a huge problem. I know that if I do this with my kids one day it will bring kindness into schools.”Similarly, Shaffer said the Campus Cursive chapter enriches her major in psychology. “I am a psychology major so I’m all about mental health,” she said. “It’s good for people to write letters and also be helping someone else. Mental health is something that is being talked about more frequently, and a small act can really impact one’s day when they are going through a rough time.”The More Love Letters movement began with the desire of one college student to spread more love throughout New York City by writing anonymous, kind letters, Franz said. This one student’s vision transformed into a movement, and the More Love Letters company was born. According to the organization’s website, over 250,000 love letters have been bundled into an envelope and delivered to “people in need.” In addition, over 100 campuses have a chapter of their own.Franz and Shaffer are planning to hold Campus Cursive meetings every other week. The two said the meetings are designed to be “stress free” and comprised of writing letters. They are also planning on holding other events throughout the semester, including writing letters to first-year students and leaving letters at Notre Dame on game days when a large amount of people are on campus. “I think one thing I’m most excited about is the community of girls who will be super passionate about this work,” Franz said.The Saint Mary’s chapter of Campus Cursive is open to students at Notre Dame and Holy Cross as well. Franz and Shaffer said no cursive handwriting is necessary for participation in this club. Students can follow @smccampuscursive on Instagram to stay updated on this club’s activities within the community.Tags: Campus Cursive club, letter writing, More Love Letters
View Comments Scenes from ‘West Side Story’ at the Knockdown Center There’s nothing like a multi-million dollar slick staging of a classic Broadway musical featuring the best acting talents available and the greatest creative team money can buy. Then again, seeing the same classic on a high school or community theater level can prove just as exhilarating, with raw, wide-eyed talents giving the material a freshness that’s undeniable. The Carnegie Hall production of the Weill Music Institute staging of West Side Story, set in a warehouse in Queens called the Knockdown Center for just one weekend, offers the best of both worlds and for this 57-year-old icon of a show, the results are nothing short of miraculous.The Sharks and the Jets are still rumbling, on a long jet runway of a stage, and the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim score still throbs and pulses like the New York City of our dreams, especially played by a full orchestra led by music director Marin Alsop and music supervisor Leslie Stifelman. But this isn’t your grandpa’s West Side Story. For one, hip hop choreographer Sean Cheesman has added new choreography to the show, which also features much of the original Jerome Robbins dance, recreated for the space by Julio Monge, a Broadway vet who actually danced as a Shark under Robbins’ eye in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. For fans of the original, it’s jolting to see sequences like the Dance at the Gym conceived with a new eye, but Cheesman’s work fits beautifully into Robbins’ and has a modern twist that’s vital to this new production’s success.Director Amanda Dehnert’s multi-cultural cast has an believability that’s impressive. They’re not dressed in period clothes, really, and if you don’t pay attention to some color-coded costuming (purple for Sharks, red for Jets), you might not know who’s side they’re on. And, although there are Broadway vets like Skylar Astin as Tony Chicago regular Bianca Marroquin as Anita and other adult roles taken by Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper, Stanley Bahorek and Peter Gerety, it’s worth noting that 30% of the principal cast are non-Equity performers, including the phenomenal golden-voiced Morgan Hernandez, a college freshman who is a natural talent and a major discovery in the role of Maria. Emotional heft and gorgeous musical moments are also provided by over 200 New York City high school students who make up the show’s off-stage chorus, also taking to the stage for several dazzling staging highs.Film and TV star Astin, who has only appeared on Broadway once in the original cast of Spring Awakening a decade ago, is a terrific Tony, playing the character’s optimism perfectly and singing the show’s ballads beautifully, in solos like “Something’s Coming” and “Maria” and a thrilling “Tonight” with Hernandez. As Anita, Marroquin is a fiery natural, leading the Shark girls (and—surprise!—guys!) through a showstopping “America” and breaking hearts in her final scene with the Jets at the drugstore. If we’re talking about showstoppers, it’d be a crime to not mention those Jet guys (led by Sam Lips as Action, Clay Thomson as Snowboy, Alex Ringler as Diesel and Emilio Ramos as Baby John) who received mid-song cheers for their “Gee, Officer Krupke,” which was perfection, and Dehnert’s clever use of performers to play the mannequins in an incredibly moving “One Hand, One Heart” sequence.So, what’s the bad news? Only that this unforgettable, must-see production is closing March 6! With it’s enormous cast and unique staging needs, it’s hard to imagine how, but we can’t help but hope that there’ll be a place for this gorgeous West Side Story somewhere closer to Broadway.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Week after week, racist posts appear on Thee Rant, a blog for current or former New York City police officers: African Americans are called “apes;” a retired officer says one of the blessings of retirement is not having to work the Puerto Rican Day parade, with its “old obese tatted up women stuffed into outfits that they purchased or shoplifted at the local Kmart store; a Middle Eastern cab driver berated by an officer is termed a “third worlder” who should have his “head split open.”And week after week, the department’s top officials are, at once, embarrassed and powerless.“It’s very disturbing stuff. Outrageous stuff,” said Stephen Davis, the chief spokesman for the NYPD. “We see it. It’s a problem.”At the heart of the problem are the limits the department faces in what it can do.“Monitoring these things is challenging,” Davis said. “There are privacy issues involved. We can’t go and peel back email names and tags and try to find out who these people are.”The issue of the blog, started by former NYPD officer Ed Polstein in 1999, has gained notoriety most recently after a white South Carolina police officer shot a black man to death. Shortly after a video of the officer appearing to shoot the fleeing man in the back went viral on the Internet, Thee Rant blew up with comments.“Cop looked good in his stance,” read one post.Polstein, who did not respond to requests for an interview, has said previously that anyone wishing to post on the blog has to provide proof that they are a current or former member of the NYPD. But whether they are, and how many have signed up, are among the many mysteries surrounding Thee Rant. The blog says it garners 120,000 page views daily.Leonard Levitt, a respected former Newsday reporter who runs the website NYPD Confidential, said he has stopped assigning much significance to Thee Rant.“To be honest, I don’t read it,” Levitt said. “I’d say these guys represent the worst elements of the department. I don’t think they speak for the average cop. I have a feeling it’s four or five guys doing most of the yowling.”Incidents of officers being investigated or punished for their behavior online, in social media or on personal cell phones, have cropped up in Illinois, Missouri and Florida in recent weeks and months.In a St. Louis suburb, for instance, an officer was fired after posting racist remarks about the protests in Ferguson. In San Francisco, eight officers were fired for exchanging racist and homophobic text messages.Relations between the police and minorities have been fraught in New York for decades. The assault on Abner Louima and the killing of Amadou Diallo during Rudy Giuliani’s administration sparked a rise in tension. The aggressive stop-and-frisk tactics during Michael Bloomberg’s mayoralty deepened the mistrust and anger. And the choking death of Eric Garner on Staten Island last year provoked protests and slogans.William Bratton, Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s police commissioner, has acknowledged the poor relations and vowed to improve them.The existence of Thee Rant, and the occasional, perhaps outsize attention it gets, has not made Bratton’s efforts easier.Garner’s death prompted some of the more extensive back and forth on the blog. Garner was killed when an officer sought to subdue him during a stop for illegally selling loose cigarettes. Bratton initially said it appeared the officer had used an improper chokehold. But a grand jury on Staten Island declined to indict the officer.On Thee Rant, support for the officer was substantial. And occasionally ugly.“A more accurate headline would be “Non Compliant Fat Bastard Gets Just Due In Resisting Law Enforcement Officers,” read a post in reaction to headlines in the city’s papers.“Yes, they’ll pay off the ‘family,’” started another. “It’s a lot cheaper than a riot…And therein lies the problem…The cities of America are held hostage by the strong-arm tactics of the savages.”Davis, the NYPD spokesman, said department policy is that officers should not be on social media, as well as blogs, except for official business. The department has shown it is willing to act against problem officers when it can. In 2012, New York City police officers were disciplined over racist and violent comments made on Facebook, many of which targeted the annual Labor Day West Indian Parade, describing the event as a “scheduled riot” and comparing it to working at a zoo.“We don’t know how many active police officers are on it,” Davis said of Thee Rant. “If we did identify active officers speaking on the site in that capacity they would be disciplined for violating policy.”“Unfortunately,” he added, “it’s one of these things that we don’t have ownership of. We don’t have any control over it. Some say that’s good, others maybe say it’s bad.”Davis said he did not know of any active effort to determine whether current officers are commenting on the site or who they are. He said the department would investigate any specific allegation that a particular officer was behind objectionable comments.“It’s, in a sense, unfortunate that a lot of it is done under the banner of freedom of expression now,” Davis said.Polstein, who joined the department in 1988, told the New York Daily News in 2005 that he’d started the blog as his personal diary. “It was how I felt at the moment,” he told the News. “It is my constitutional right to vent.”Over the years, the local media has occasionally reported on Thee Rant. In one recent instance, the blog decided to go after a reporter who had done a story about the South Carolina shooting comments. One contributor to the blog found a video of the reporter at a conference, posted it, and then encouraged others to mock the reporter’s looks.The coverage prompted objections from at least one current or former officer, who suggested Polstein should take a more active role in moderating the blog.“There hasn’t been a moderator on here in days,” the officer wrote. “If Ed had any loyalty to active duty cops, he’d remove the law enforcement angle of the board and let er rip. As it is, anytime a lazy reporter wants to smear the NYPD, all he has to do is come here and read the ravings of some diaper wearing geriatric that fell hard off the Aricept train and say that it was an active NYPD cop saying it.”The NYPD’s Davis said he hoped the police union might step in to rein in the blog.“A lot of retired people are still active in the union and it doesn’t do anybody any good to have these remarks out there,” he said. “They really don’t help. But that’s the nature of the social media beast right now.”Al O’Leary, spokesman for the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, declined to comment for this story.ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.
ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr It is said that trust is the most valuable thing you can earn. In financial services, it’s fundamental to success. Trust in financial institutions has been hard won since the 2008 financial crisis. And the financial services industry is not alone. Trust in institutions is wavering across all industries—just look at Facebook’s data scandal for proof. Rachel Botsman, world-renowned expert on trust, says this shaky ground is because institutional trust was not built for the digital age. However, there’s one truth that holds true over the ages: Trust between people is the glue that holds society together. This is where credit unions excel.Trust stems from a sense of common values and beliefs, a mutual understanding and sense of community. That said, credit unions are in a prime position to win consumers’ trust. The ability to clearly and confidently articulate your brand values and differentiators is the first step. This should be a top strategic priority as your credit union shifts into earning trust from a more modern membership.Build a Modern Brand Identity“We have a mission statement and brand values,” some readers might say. “It’s been the same for decades and it still holds true.” Stop right there. Ask yourself: continue reading »
continue reading » So much has changed in the last few weeks as the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold around the world. Here in the US, many organizations have been forced to quickly adapt to “social distancing,” teleworking, and stay-at-home orders within just a matter of days. Some have even ceased their operations entirely.As the focus on COVID-19 has dominated nearly all news sources, social media has been no exception. In fact, many organizations have been consistently using their social media accounts to share updates and important information about the coronavirus with their followers. For organizations across the country, this has been a significant shift away from their 2020 social media strategies or general marketing efforts.For credit unions, it’s an opportunity to stand out as a trusted and valued resource for not only their members, but also for the communities they serve. To achieve this, credit unions will need to rethink their current social media strategies – at least for the time being.Here are some tips on what to post across social media during stressful situations like the one we’re all facing right now. 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr CUES member David Stephen Baker, operations & security manager for $700 million Connex Credit Union, North Haven, Connecticut, shares his thoughts on how credit unions can best support fraud investigations while still complying with the rules protecting members’ private information.Q: What information can CUs share when it comes to fraud prevention?In an ideal world, CUs could freely communicate with each other to prevent potential losses. However, a list of legal restrictions—such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and contractual obligations with card industry vendors—protects members’ private information from being shared without their consent or a warrant issued by the government in support of the administration of justice.Q: What if organizations ask for information that could be considered “private”?The fraud prevention information that CUs share amongst themselves, either directly or through a common vendor, is typically high level and couldn’t be used to identify a specific member. For example, a CU might share its observation that a known fraud technique is making a comeback—or that it thinks it has spotted a new scheme being perpetrated in the marketplace. In contrast, law enforcement agencies may request specific information about a particular member or members. And that’s where credit unions need to be especially knowledgeable and cautious.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Nassau County police are searching for two suspects who went on an anti-Muslim rant and threatened to kill two Cedarhurst gas station clerks because of their religion, police said.The incident, which occurred at a Shell gas station on Rockaway Avenue on Saturday night, is also being investigated as a potential bias crime due to the suspects’ racial slurs and anti-Muslim remarks.According to police, the two suspects—a man and a woman—grew angry after they were denied “slushies” because the gas station wasn’t able to make the frozen beverages at that time. They became more enraged when a store clerk denied their use of an electronic food stamps card to purchase several other unidentified items.That prompted the woman to throw food at the clerk and “to use racial slurs, anti-Muslim remarks and threatened to kill both store clerks,” said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, the police department’s chief spokesman, at a press conference Monday at police headquarters in Mineola.When one of the clerks demanded they leave, the male suspect pushed a New York State Lotto machine to the ground, causing $4,000 worth of damage, LeBrun said. The man also launched a 6-foot metal cart and two bottles of antifreeze in the clerks’ direction, he added.Prior to fleeing the store, the pair repeated their anti-Muslim remarks and physical threats.LeBrun declined to go into specifics about what was said, reiterating that they were “very disparaging and very harmful remarks.”Nassau County police are searching for these two suspects, who they say shouted anti-Muslim remarks at a gas station clerk“I’m just going to basically state that they were derogatory, and they did threaten to kill them based on their religious and ethnic origin,” LeBrun said.A manager at the gas station told the Press he wasn’t working Saturday but he was informed the woman shouted, “Kill him! Kill him!” to her companion.“They messed up the place,” said the manager, who wished only to be identified by his initials, G.S.The manager said this was the first time in three decades that anything like this had happened.“Even in 9/11 [this] never happened,” he told the Press. “I don’t know what was in their mind.”G.S. said he didn’t know what specifically was said during the altercation.At the press conference, LeBrun said bias crimes “will not be tolerated in Nassau County.”Although police are investigating the incident as a possible bias crime, LeBrun said authorities believe it was the clerk’s insistence that “slushies” were unavailable that sparked the outburst.The suspects were last seen fleeing the store northbound on Rockaway Avenue. The man was described as black, wearing a black shirt, shorts, and a blue baseball cap that was turned backwards. The woman was described as black, wearing a white shirt, shorts and long, black, braided hair.Authorities are analyzing video footage and information regarding the electronic food stamps card.Detectives ask anyone with information about the crime to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All calls are anonymous.(Featured photo: Tony Webster/Creative Commons License)