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Posts Tagged ‘questions

“Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”*…

 

census

 

The census is an essential part of American democracy. The United States counts its population every ten years to determine how many seats each state should have in Congress. Census data have also been used to levy taxes and distribute funds, estimate the country’s military strength, assess needs for social programs, measure population density, conduct statistical analysis of longitudinal trends, and make business planning decisions.

We looked at every question on every census from 1790 to 2020. The questions—over 600 in total—tell us a lot about the country’s priorities, norms, and biases in each decade. They depict an evolving country: a modernizing economy, a diversifying population, an imperfect but expanding set of civil and human rights, and a growing list of armed conflicts in its memory…

From our friends at The Pudding (@puddingviz), a graphic history of the questions asked in the U.S. Census. What changes each decade, what stays the same, and what do the questions say about American culture and society? “The Evolution of the American Census.”

For a look at how the pandemic is impacting this year’s census, see “It’s the Official Start to the 2020 Census. But No One Counted On a Pandemic.” and “Coronavirus could exacerbate the US census’ undercount of people of color.”

* Article 1, Section 2, of the the Constitution of the United States of America, directing the creation and conducting of a regular census; Congress first met in 1789, and the first national census was held in 1790.

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As we answer faithfully, we might send illustratively enumerating birthday greetings to John James Audubon; he was born on this date in 1785.  An ornithologist, naturalist, and artist, Audubon documented all types of American birds with detailed illustrations depicting the birds in their natural habitats.  His The Birds of America (1827–1839), in which he identified 25 new species, is considered one of the most important– and finest– ornithological works ever completed.

Book plate featuring Audubon’s print of the Greater Prairie Chicken

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Written by LW

April 26, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers; a librarian can bring you back the right one”*

 

Recently some folks at the New York Public Library discovered a box containing old reference questions from the 1940s to the 1980s.  They’re posting the questions to their Instagram account each Monday, noting that “we were Google before Google existed.”  Some of the examples include answers; others are…  well, probably unanswerable– but all are a reminder of the extraordinary value of the Library and its reference librarians.

People still use an updated version of the service, Ask NYPL; the Library reports that they receive about 1,700 reference questions a month via chat, email, and phone.

Read more at “Before Google, Here’s What New Yorkers Asked The NYPL.”

* Neil Gaiman

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As we keep it down, we might send bibliographic birthday greetings to Archibald MacLeish; he was born on this date in 1892.  A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet (Conquistador) and dramatist (JB), MacLeish became “America’s Reference Librarian”– the Librarian of Congress– in 1939.

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“Questions are never indiscreet; answers sometimes are”*…

 

Once every week, Moiz Syed and Juliusz Gonera add a question to their site “How Wrong You Are“…

After one answers a question, one is shown both the correct answer and the percentage of respondents who picked each choice.

How Wrong You Are is a collection of important questions that people are sometimes misinformed about. We poll you to measure how right – or how wrong – the public is about these important questions.

Every week, we will add a new question. These are all questions that we hope you already know. But if you don’t, don’t worry! You learned something. Share your results, successful or not. Chances are, if you didn’t know this question, other people might not, either.

Find out “How Wrong You Are.”

* Oscar Wilde

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As we agonize over our answers, we might spare a thought for Franz Kafka; he died on this date in 1924. Trained as a lawyer, and settled as a young man into a job with an insurance company, Kafka began to write in his spare time.  The novels (e.g., The Trial) and short stories (e.g., “Metamorphosis”) he produced made him one of the most influential authors of the 20th century; their themes– alienation, physical and psychological brutality, family conflict, terrifying quests, labyrinthine bureaucracy, and mystical transformations– were especially impactful on existentialism.  Camus, Sartre, and Ionesco all cite him as a key influence, as did Marquez and Saramago. But most of this impact came after Kafka’s death: the bulk of his work was published posthumously, mostly by his friend Max Brod, who ignored Kafka’s wish to have his manuscripts destroyed.

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Written by LW

June 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

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