Gaming+Feminism – 2 for 1

Not an hour after my last post, this hits my news feed: Ubisoft’s gamer survey first asks if you’re female, and terminates if you say “yes” []


The first question in this Ubisoft customer survey is “What is your gender” with “Male” and “Female” as permitted responses; if you choose “Female,” you’re dumped into a screen that informs you that “your profile doesn’t suit the survey.”

If you ignore them [women], they’ll just go away, right?



Apparently this was in error:

Faith in humanity restored(?)

Gender Parity in Video Games

The Legend of Zelda fans decry lack of female lead as ‘lazy’ and ‘laughable’

“If they firmly said ‘We didn’t make a female hero because we didn’t want to,’ I can respect that. That’s standing on your creative grounds,” says Jessica Lachenal, a writer for pop culture website The Mary Sue. “But to point at a somewhat vague plot detail as an arbitrary constraint is frustrating to see. It’s — and I mean this in the nicest way — lazy.”

The video game industry once again retains its status quo of anti-feminism and a lack of innovation when it comes to diversifying gender roles in games. Clearly this issue is not isolated to Western (nor Japanese) developers, though its interesting to see the differences.

In this case I’m less concerned over Nintendo’s decision to say full-stop that Link is a man (well.. because he is… androgyny or not), and more blown away by how dismissive and regressive the answer was from Aonumi.

I’m sure this event is already being blown out of proportion by Mensrights and Gamergate “activists” decrying the death of video games because society demands parity in gender representation.

Get with it already, I’m getting sick of it.

BIBLIOCRACY – Imposter Syndrome

From BIBLIOCRACY, on library leadership/management and impostor syndrome:

A couple days ago at a conference, I made an off-the-cuff comment to the effect that the primary function of impostor syndrome in librarianship is to enrich the vast and more or less parasitic apparatus of consultants, motivational speakers, thought leaders, and vendors adjacent to the field and the services we provide. Such persons are naturally invested in librarians lacking a sense of what they’re doing, after all, and can only profit from a state of affairs where librarians succumb to gullibility and stupidity because they think themselves incapable of understanding or solving problems. A couple people on Twitter thought that was an oversimplification.

They’re right.

Full article here:

Canadian Copyright Term Extension for Sound Recordings

You may have heard a fair share of dispute and debate regarding the new budget released by the ruling Progressive Conservative party. One small item has been receiving a little (and arguable not enough) attention: the decision to extend copyright on sound recordings by an additional 20 years. This is a topic I’m passionate enough about to take some time out of my day to write up a quick blog post.

Why should you be concerned? What does this entail and how does this affect you?

Believe it or not, but copyright extensions – which at first seem to be supportive to authors, musicians, and composers – in fact are detrimental to the growth and evolution of art and creativity. They arguably benefit copyright owners, but are a detriment to performers and consumers.

The debate over the “Sonny Bono” Copyright Extension Act of 1998 provided ample evidence in support of keeping copyright terms a reasonable length. Alas, corporate interests (especially Disney, hence the derisive nickname “Micky Mouse Protection Act”) dominated the debates and the U.S. act was passed effective October 27, 1998.

Canadians now find themselves in a similar situation: some evidence now shows that Universal Music may have had some lobbying influence on the Government’s decision to make sound recording remain in copyright for a total of 70 years.

Keeping sound recordings out of the public domain for an additional 20 years is a drastic decision that will negatively effect future Canadians. Not only will audiences be restricted from listening to past works, but the term extension also hampers original creativity by restricting access by future artists to past works. Michael Geist makes a great case for outlining financial penalties of the term extension in this blog entry. Here’s a brief quote:

The evidence suggests that extending the term of protection for sound recordings or performers’ rights prospectively would not increase the incentives to invest, would not increase the number of works created or made available, and would negatively impact upon consumers and industry. Furthermore, by increasing the period of protection, future creators would have to wait an additional length of time to build upon past works to create new products and those wishing to revive protected but forgotten material would be unable to do so for a longer period of time.

For a general idea as to how and why copyright extension are a bad thing, check out this helpful YouTube video. It’s only 6 minutes – you can spare the time!

Systematic Review of Librarian-Provided Services

Just a quick post today to link to this review recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Effects of librarian-provided services in healthcare settings: a systematic review“.

The review summarized twenty-five articles, leading to some positive outcomes:

Librarian-provided services directed to participants in training programs (eg, students, residents) improve skills in searching the literature to facilitate the integration of research evidence into clinical decision-making. Services provided to clinicians were shown to be effective in saving time for health professionals and providing relevant information for decision-making. Two studies indicated patient length of stay was reduced when clinicians requested literature searches related to a patient’s case.

Stethoscope on book

Are librarians saving lives?

Librarians do a lot of work to support their profession and the promote the existence of libraries in academic, public and “special” (e.g. medical libraries, government libraries, law libraries, etc.) spheres. This is just one example of how it’s done.

These are some pretty great results to see, though more research is always needed (as well as more care and attention to proper study design, as this review points out). The full citation is below if you’re interested in reading more.

Perrier, L., Farrell, A., Ayala, A. P., Lightfoot, D., Kenny, T., Aaronson, E., . . . Weiss, A. (2014). Effects of librarian-provided services in healthcare settings: a systematic review. J Am Med Inform Assoc, 21, 1118-1124. doi: 10.1136/amiajnl-2014-002825. Epub 2014 May 28.

Photo Credit: Dr.Farouk via Compfight cc

Programme Music

Programme music: Instrumental music which tells a story, illustrates literary ideas, or evokes pictorial scenes.

“Programme Music.” The Oxford Dictionary of Music, 2nd ed. rev. Ed. Michael Kennedy. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.

How do soundtrack composers come up with their scores? It’s certainly an interesting process of melding the minds of director and composer.  In some cases, the soundtrack becomes a dialogue between director and composer.

What would this scene be without music? Hit the mute button to try it on for size.

Try watching this iconic Star Wars scene with the audio muted. Listen again with the sound on. How aware are you of the music in the movies you love? Music can be just as much a character as any other portrayed by an actor onscreen.*

Some directors rely on the composer to guide how they will shoot the film. Stanley Kubrick, John Carpenter, David Lynch, and Werner Herzog come to mind as directors who decide to use music as more than just background noise, and where the composer may have actually influenced the direction of the film.

Have a listen to the above interview with Angelo Badalamenti, composer for David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Observe as Lynch sets the tone for Badalamenti and he obliges perfectly.

How different would Twin Peaks be without Badalmenti? Star Wars without Williams? What about 2001 without Strauss?

Here’s another favourite music-movie combination of mine (kicks in around 1:50) in 2007’s There Will Be Blood (director: Paul Thomas Anderson / composer: Jonny Greenwood, yes, of Radiohead fame).

*This is a screenshot from a copyrighted film. It is being used here for educational purposes as understood via Fair Use/Fair Dealing exception(s). Copyright infringement is not intended.

Science & public perceptions

Keep your head out of the sand (Photo credit: Sara&Joachim. cc)

A perceptive and informed member of the public? (Photo credit: Sara&Joachim via compfight. cc)

As a library scientist, I find wilful ignorance and disbelief of information of particular interest. I also enjoy discussions on misinformation and disinformation. These are topics I hope to research someday.

A few days ago, the Pew Research Center released the following report: “Public and Scientists’ Views of Science and Society“, summarizing opinion differences between scientists and non-scientists (average U.S. adults) on a few key issues including vaccinations, GMOs, the energy sector, climate change, and space exploration.

The results of their survey are quite interesting: the majority of citizens & researchers agree that the sciences are deserving of public funding, but that is where their agreements end. A majority of U.S. adults disagree with a majority of U.S. scientists on matters such as the safety of GMOs, mandatory childhood vaccines, and climate change. The GMO issue ([Is it] safe to eat genetically modified foods?), for example, shows a 51-point gap between scientists (88% safe) and general public (37% unsafe).

The report goes on to discuss education, public image of science, and scientific funding.

Why does this happen? Why are Americans (and I imagine the results can be transferred to Canada) so distrustful of scientific research and scientific researchers? Why is popular opinion beating out scientific evidence on so many key issues facing the world?

I have no answers, but I’ve shared this report because I think this is a significant problem, especially in the divergent opinions on public health and social issues that affect us all including vaccination, K-12 education, and environmental sustainability.

Franz Liszt, Giuseppe Verdi, Don Draper

Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

Jon Hamm as Donald Draper on AMC’s Mad Men

What do these three have in common?

Well, I know for a fact that Franz Liszt was quite an attractive man, known for causing women to swoon in ecstasy at the very sight of him. I suppose Jon Hamm is considered quite the heartthrob these days, though I don’t think he’s composed any Hungarian Dances lately…

Verdi, the Italian opera composer of the 19th century has little in common with the American Madison Avenue advertising genius, though both are well known for their creativity in music and design respectively.

Does this sound familiar?

A great opening sequence for a great television show. Who could have thought up such a catchy and iconic theme?

Why, Giuseppe Verdi, of course!

Giuseppe Verdi by Giovanni Boldini, 1886 (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna)

Giuseppe Verdi
by Giovanni Boldini, 1886
(Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna)

The sweetly downwards-flowing string melody you hear is a musical quotation from Verdi’s opera, Il Trovatore. More specifically, the Act 4 Scene 1 chorus & duet titled Miserere. The Miserere is a prayer for mercy for those are about to die – the words are sung by a chorus of monks in the style of a Gregorian chant. Leonora, overhearing the voices, joins in in grief over the departed soul of her beloved.

That sound, those prayers,
so solemn and dire,
fill the air
with baleful terror!
The distress
that fills me almost deprives
my lips of their breath,
my heart of its beating!

Portrait of Liszt by Ary Scheffer, 1837

Portrait of Liszt by Ary Scheffer, 1837

Il Trovatore was a very successful opera. Franz Liszt, being a big Verdi fan himself, transcribed many of Verdi’s great arias to solo piano works. The Miserere was one of those pieces. Il Trovatore and the Miserere are great works on their own… but if you don’t have time to take in an entire opera, there’s always Liszt!



Here’s the Miserere as performed by Chilean pianist, Claudio Arrau. You can hear the familiar melody at about the 1:20 mark in the YouTube video.